Players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft are never a sure thing. There are many early round selections that don’t pan out and numerous lower round picks who attain success in the big leagues. There are qualities teams look for when evaluating talent; athletic abilities beyond hitting or throwing a baseball, a hard work ethic, determination, humility and confidence. Players who exhibit these characteristics tend to be among the more successful in the game. The New York Yankees extensively scouted second round pick (89th overall) Austin Aune and ultimately drafted him because he possesses all these qualities and more.
Aune is one of many 18-year old two-sport stars drafted in the early rounds. He was also a standout quarterback for the Argyle High School Eagles (Texas). He was already at Texas Christian University getting ready for summer workouts with their football team when he received word that the Yankees had selected him in the draft.
This was of no real surprise to Aune and when I asked him via email about it, he had this to say, “I knew there was a possibility of being drafted by the Yankees, just because they had been to some of my high school games. When I got the call I was really honored to be wanted by a team with a ton of history…We agreed to terms on Tuesday morning before I was picked. Once I was picked I knew it was going to be official.”
Aune pretty much packed up his things and spoke with his football coach at TCU to let him know he was going to pursue life as a professional baseball player. His coach was not surprised as they knew of Aune’s desire to pursue baseball and had a back-up plan in place in case Aune did in fact leave the school.
The Yankees entered the draft looking for players with specific attributes both physically and mentally. They had a draft plan which sought pitchers with power arms and position players who could excel up the middle. Aune, a shortstop for a better part of this high school career, will be shifted to center field once he begins rookie ball with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in Tampa, FL later this summer.
I spoke by phone with Argyle’s athletic director and head football coach Todd Rodgers, who has known Aune since the 8th grade, and he noted that because of his “tremendous” athletic ability and his ability to “track the ball” he’ll have little issue making the transition. When Aune was posed the same question, he exuded the confidence the Yankees must have seen, “I don’t think anything will be hard about the transition. I played CF my junior season so all I need to do is get out there and play.”
In my discussion with Rodgers, I asked him about Aune’s ability to tune out the scouts who swarmed his games with upwards of 15-20 sets of scrutinizing eyeballs watching at various times. He said that Aune was seemingly unfazed by the attention and “likes the big show”. Aune added, “Honestly the scouts didn’t bother me too much. I was just focused on being who I am and playing my game.” (continued on next page)