Exactly a week ago today, the baseball world marveled at rookies Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hitting back-to-back home runs in their first career at bats. Since then, Judge has continued with some success while Austin has somewhat struggled. Obviously, it is far too early to assume anything on Tyler Austin, but an interesting note to consider is that Austin has struggled within the first month of being moved up from every level.
These first at-bats in Austin’s major league career cannot be judged this early. Young major leaguers have many adjustments to make and mentally Austin is considered as strong as they come. He is a cancer survivor and a player who was taken off the 40-man roster last year and passed up by every team in league on waivers. Despite that, this year he has put together his best-ever season in professional baseball.
With that being said, whether Austin starts killing the ball or if his struggles continue, the Yankees cannot let the Mark Teixeira farewell tour get in the way of Austin’s development. While Greg Bird is due to return next season there is obviously some concern about which Greg Bird we will see. That means the Yankees have to find someone who can get the job done at first base in case Bird isn’t ready. Personally, I think Greg Bird will slot right back in the Yankees line up next year and have a great season batting with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge around him.
In addition, Austin doesn’t need to exclusively play first. It’s important that the Yankees get a look at all four positions he can play (1B, 3B, LF, RF). Players who can play multiple positions are becoming hot commodities in today’s baseball. It gives a team a lot more flexibility off of the bench and can keep a player in the lineup while rotating him around by position. The Yankees should continue giving Tyler Austin regular at-bats and let him adjust to the major league pitching. He has a smooth approach at the plate and is great at taking pitches to the opposite field. Most importantly, a lot of his power goes to the opposite field, which is a big deal in Yankee Stadium with the famous short porch in right.
The Yankees have a very bright future ahead of them and most fans have embraced the youth movement. They seem to be getting back to how the Yankees won in the 90’s by building a farm system, building relationships between players and helping them to learn to compete together as a team. As they did then, the prospects that don’t pan out will be replaced by free agents or get traded for players that fit the mold of their system. The Yankees have a bright future to look forward to and so far they’ve been able to do it while still remaining competitive.
Edited by: Joey Santanello