Fans vote Tyler Austin MiLB Breakout Prospect of 2012
Yankees RF Tyler Austin has been named the recipient of the MiLBY Award for Breakout Prospect of the year as voted on by fans nationwide. This is the latest honor for the 21-year-old who was also chosen to play in the Futures Game and was listed by Baseball America as the #8 prospect in the Florida State League. When the various prospect lists come out this Winter, expect to see Austin as one of the Yankees top 3 and perhaps one of MLB’s Top 50.
Austin was a breakout to most as he didn’t get a lot of respect from many of the experts coming into this season. Very few had him in their preseason Yankee Top 10′s (he was #9 on ours). But Tyler turned a lot of heads with a blazing hot start for the Charleston RiverDogs in April and continued to rake all season long across 3 levels. After dominating the Low-A Sally League in Charleston with a .320 BA and 14 HRs, he was promoted to Hi-A after 70 games and showed his consistency by hitting .321 in 36 games. He impressed the organization so much, he earned a late season bump up to AA Trenton for the playoffs. Overall he hit .322/.400/.559/.960 with 17 HRs, 35 Doubles, 6 Triples, 80 RBI and 23 SBs in 25 attempts.
Austin will likely begin the 2013 season in AA Trenton and it will be a good challenge to see how good he really is. From what I’ve been able to gather through speaking with him and his coaches, Tyler is a very smart player with an advanced approach. He’s used that asset to work pitcher’s into hitting counts and to steal bases in the right situations despite not being a plus runner. Playing at the AA level against older pitcher’s with more of a major league approach and arsenal will tell us a lot about his hitting ability. I like the fact that he’s an aggressive hitter but also has good strike zone awareness/discipline to accept walks. Even better is the fact that hits from pole to pole with power to all fields also. He adjusted beautifully from 3B/1B to RF, where he has solid range and an above-average arm. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees leave him in RF for good or if he could be a guy who plays the 4 corner spots. His bat is easily his most impressive tool but he could be even more valuable at the MLB-level if he’s able to play multiple positions. I believe Tyler will be a solid Major Leaguer and could be a factor in the Bronx as early as 2014. Players like Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott may have more raw talent but I think Austin will be the first one to prove he’s ready for the Majors.