Tyler Austin was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. The Yankees drafted the 18-year-old out of high school as a catcher, but quickly switched him to third base, and then to his current home in the outfield. He’ll attend Spring Training in Tampa as one of the Yankees’ 26 non-roster invitees.
Austin put up some solid offensive numbers up the 2012 season. During his first couple of years in the minors, he bat .331 overall. In 2012, he put up a .322/.400/.559 line in 110 games, primarily in Class-A.
Prior to 2013, he was named by Baseball America as the 77th-best prospect in the country. His stock was hurt a bit last season, but at least part of that was likely due to a wrist injury that limited him to just 85 games. His line dipped to .265/.351/.378 over the course of the year, and the big question now is whether or not that wrist injury had anything to do with the decline.
Austin’s strength is not in his defense, and he lacks any notable speed, so he’ll have to improve that slash line if he hopes to move up within the Yankees organization.
Austin is not a stranger to overcoming adversity. He battled and beat testicular cancer at 17. He maintains a positive outlook about his future with the Yankees, and has humbly stated that he needs more development and knowledge regarding opposing pitchers. He even admitted to being perhaps a little cocky during his time in double-A and vows to not make that mistake again.
Spring Training will be the opportunity for Austin, now 22, to show whether or not his decline in 2013 was due to his wrist injury or not. Given the Yankees’ big league outfield depth, it’s unlikely that Austin will see the majors at all in 2014, but with a good spring performance, he could certainly spend much of the year in triple-A Scranton with his eye on a 2015 MLB debut.