Tyler Austin quickly made a splash in the Major Leagues last year, when he went back-to-back with fellow Baby Bomber Aaron Judge in their first game. Austin finished last year hitting .241 with five homers and 12 RBIs. However, by Spring Training, it seemed that the starting job at first base this year was going to belong to Greg Bird. Bird, who missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury, slugged 11 home runs and drove in 31 runs in an abbreviated 2015. Austin stated earlier this year that his goal was to win the starting job at first base, but a broken foot put him on the 60-day DL in mid February.
Last week, Yankees management decided Austin was ready to start his rehab assignment. The Georgia native was shipped off to Double-A Trenton to get some live at bats. In his first game against the Portland Seadogs, Austin went 1-3 with a double and a run scored. Through five games with Trenton, he is hitting .429 with a double, two triples, and five runs scored. So far so good for Austin, but where, if anywhere, does he fit on the Major League roster?
Primarily a first baseman, Austin also feels comfortable in the outfield. Before he suffered an injury, he was getting work in at third base prior to Spring Training.
Austin is a competitor who will do whatever he has to in order to see his name on the Yankee’s lineup sheet. After putting on a hitting clinic in the pre-season and winning the starting job at first base, Greg Bird has gone ice cold and landed himself on the disabled list. However, he is slated to begin a rehab assignment of his own this week.
Currently assuming first base duties is Chris Carter, who has homered in two of the last three games, but is still hitting a mere .209 on the year. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury recently suffered a concussion and will miss some time, manufacturing a need for a fourth outfielder. Rob Refsnyder currently fills that void, but Tyler Austin could perhaps claim it. It is also very possible that Austin has an extended stay in Triple-A in order to receive consistent at bats and playing time.