April Prospect of the Month: Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin‘s numbers speak for themselves: through 94 plate appearances over 22 games, Austin is hitting .360/.404/.860 and, entering play last night, was was hitting to a .527 wOBA and a wRC+ of 219! He’s added 9 home runs, 8 doubles, and 4 triples, giving him a total of 21 extra base hits in 22 games. He’s fourth in the South Atlantic League in batting average, and leads or shares the league lead in home runs, slugging percentage, and triples. He’s also been the model of consistency, getting at least one hit in 19 games, while collecting multi-hit games 9 times. At one point Austin had a 13 game hitting streak, and had multiple hits in 7 consecutive contests.

In addition to the phenomenal work he’s doing at the plate, Austin is in the process of transitioning to playing the outfield. Drafted as a catcher out of high school, he primarily played third base in rookie and short-season ball, but with the Yankees assigning Bichette to Charleston as well, Austin, who gets good marks on scouting reports for his foot speed and arm, is getting a try out in right field. How’s that going? “I’m really enjoying the transition to right field,” Austin told me when I spoke to him Wednesday. “It’s a lot of fun to be out there with those guys in the outfield.” How does it compare to playing third? “I’m more comfortable out there [in the outfield],” Austin says.

Though Austin is by no means without flaws in his hitting that will need to be worked out along his road to the big leagues, if Austin continues to crush Single-A pitching at the rate he has so far, and with the kind of consistency he’s shown in the season’s first months, the Yankees will have to consider promoting him to High-A Tampa sooner rather than later. For his part, Austin is worrying about when he might be wearing a different uniform. “My performance is going to take care of itself. When that day comes, if it does, then I’ll be happy about it, but I’m not going to think too much about it.” That’s not to say he doesn’t have big ambitions for the season though. “I want to help my team win a championship,” said the player who helped slug both the GCL Yankees and Staten Island Yankees to league championships in 2011. “[I want to ] go out there and get better every day and not take any days off.”

The thought of Austin getting better is not going to help South Atlantic League pitchers sleep peacefully, to be sure. And now that Austin has served notice to prospect watchers that he’s capable of continuing to rake in full season ball, how does Austin plan to follow up on his hot April? “Hopefully just keep it rolling into next month.” He’s off to a good start, going 1-2 with two walks and a double in the Riverdogs’ first game of the new month last night.

For more on Tyler Austin, see his IIATMS prospect profile.

For more on the state of the Yankees’ farm system, check out the rest of Tamar’s monthly review.