Yesterday, the Trenton Thunder rolled to their second straight victory behind an 11-run 4th inning. Today, their offense found out more good news. Tyler Austin is on his way back to the line-up.
Thunder skipper Tony Franklin confirmed that outfielder Tyler Austin is on his way back to Double-A after an extended spring training in Tampa. When he will be inserted back into the line-up, however, is still uncertain. Austin, who was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, is the Yankees’ number 10 overall prospect according to FanGraphs and is also considered one of the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball by Baseball America. The Thunder will be at a huge advantage once his bat returns to the line-up.
Austin spent all of 2013 with the Thunder aside from a 2-game rehab stint for the Yankees Gulf Coast Rookie League affiliate. He suffered a bit offensively last season due to a nagging wrist injury that cost him over a month of the season. Despite the lingering effects, Austin still managed a respectable .257 average with 6 HRs and 40 RBI.
As a top hitting prospect in the organization, it will be tough for him to break through in the current Yankees outfield. Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner just signed lucrative long-term deals and hopefully won’t be going anywhere for awhile. The Yankees are aware that they have a special prospect so they have been experimenting with him. Austin, who has played mostly right field throughout the coarse of his career, has been playing new positions. Austin was playing the infield in the Arizona Fall League after the Thunder’s 2013 season, however he was quickly shut down once again from the lingering effects of his wrist injury.
So, where will Franklin play Austin when he is ready to roll for the Thunder? “Tyler was playing a little third base in the spring. He has played some first base and he’s played some outfield. When you swing the bat as well as Tyler, you try to get his bat in the lineup anywhere…there’s a possibility he might be throughout the outfield and third base and possibly first base, we just don’t know yet.”
Whatever the case is, the arrival of Tyler Austin in Trenton is a welcomed site. If his wrist is healed, he will be a heart of the line-up presence that will greatly benefit both Gary Sanchez and Zach Wilson as well as the entire offense. The Thunder, currently on a two game winning streak, look like they are getting back on track to defend their 2013 Eastern League title.