Yankees state of the system: First Base

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Tyler Austin

Until Greg Bird proves he can play a full season without missing massive amounts of time, the Yankees would be wise to add some insurance behind him.

Right now, that player is Tyler Austin.

The 26-year-old has shown promise in his 53 Major League games. He’s got great opposite-field power and profiles as a pretty decent hitter. But Austin also has injury problems. He managed just 86 games played in 2017, with 20 of them coming at the major league level.

His numbers in Triple-A Scranton were terrific (.260/.335/.519 with 12 home runs in 66 games). In fact, the Yankees tried to hand Austin the first base job in June, after they released Chris Carter. But he lasted just four games before hitting the DL with a hamstring strain.

Austin returned nearly two months later and started at first base for about a week until he was displaced by Bird. In September, Austin played sparingly.

Zack Martino of EliteSportsNY.com recently compared Austin and Bird, and you’d be surprised by his findings.

"Austin, a right-handed batter, does not have as many major league at-bats as Bird. However, he does possess good numbers in a field where Bird lacks. In his combined appearances in 2016 and 2017, Austin had 36 at-bats against southpaws. He posted a .361 average, hit 4 home runs, and drove in 12 runs. While Bird did hit .286 against left-handers in 28 at-bats this past season, it isn’t quite an accurate representation of his game."

As of right now, Austin seems to be in line for one of the team’s four bench spots. Depending on which infielders the Yankees choose to carry, he might be bumped back to Triple-A for a bit. But Austin will get at-bats in 2018. It’s up to him to make the most of them.