Patrick Teale

Tyler Austin is going through a bit of a slump but there are good signs it should be temporary.

TRENTON, NJ --

After spending some time in the Yankees’ Triple-A team in Scranton in 2015 some people thought that Tyler Austin would be making his Major League debut in the near future.

Right now, however, Austin, back in Double-A Trenton for a fourth straight year, is facing a mini-slump of sorts. After raising his batting average to .286 on May 2, his batting average dropped to .242 as of May 20. He also has two home runs and 20 RBI in the season.

But still, he is enjoying his time in Trenton, where the Thunder have a 22-17 record, and he believes that his season is just beginning.

“I think this season so far has been going really well,” Austin said. “We have a great team here and we’re playing well here. I can’t really complain much.”
           
For some the numbers may be a bit disheartening but to Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell it’s still early enough in the season where Austin can make a comeback and back to batting nearly .300.
   
Defensively, he has not made too many errors this season and has seen time as a first baseman and in left field. He is also capable of playing in third base as well, playing eight games as a third baseman when he was with the Thunder in previous seasons.
   
While injuries have a been a part of his minor league career in the past few years, Austin said that he feels great and is not worried about possible future injuries, specifically his wrist, where he injured it in 2013.
           
One aspect of his game that has not been showcased at all this season is his speed. He came into this season with 59 stolen bases in 66 attempts in 445 career games. He has yet to steal a base in 36 games played this season.
   
There is also the struggles he is having against left-handed pitchers. He is 3-for-30 against lefties all season long.
   
When he is batting with runners in scoring position, he has a slash line of .243/.388/.351 with 14 RBI in 37 at-bats in that situation.

“I’m just trying to keep the same approach at the plate,” Austin said. “I think I’m still hitting the ball really well. It’s just that I haven’t had anything to show for it and I’m just going to go out and hopefully good things will happen.”

Austin isn’t having a bad season necessarily. His numbers are slightly better this year than in the short time he spent in Trenton last year. His walk rate is slightly up from last year and has drove in a run every 1.8 games, compared to him driving a run per 2.6 games in Trenton.

His approach at the plate is still solid according to his coaches and he is tied for seventh in the Eastern League in walks with 21 and many believe his recent struggles lately may just be due to bad luck.

“He’s not getting over anxious,” Mitchell said. “If he plays like he was when he was hot, the balls will start to drop more. I like his at-bats and it’s unfortunate that he has run into some bad luck right now. I’m not worried about him. I think his approach remains largely the same.”

Mitchell said that he loves Austin’s demeanor in the clubhouse. He said that Austin doesn’t chase too many pitches and he figures that he will overcome his slump.

“He hits the ball really hard,” Mitchell said. “He just goes through a lot of stretches where he just finds no luck. The thing I like about him is that, even despite his average going down, he’s still walking.”

But if Austin stands to have a chance to move up to Triple-A once more and hopefully make it to the big leagues someday, he has to start to produce against Double-A pitching.
   
“That’s the thing about Double-A baseball,” hitting coach P.J. Pilittere said. “You have to be able to hit well here because the pitching from here onwards is only going to get tougher. I think Tyler will be all right.”

While Austin is not panicking over his slumping numbers, he is still confident that he’ll be hitting the ball better soon. When asked on what he needs to work on, he said that he still needs to improve on every facet of his game.
   
“I need to work on everything,” Austin said. “I have to keep developing because I’m not where I want to be as a player. I just got to continue working and then go from there.”


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories