Tag: Tyler Austin

Tyler Austin’s Last Stand

At age-26, and ranked as the team’s No. 14 prospect, Tyler Austin may be running out of opportunities in the Bronx.

Austin was drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 Amateur Draft, and debuted in 2016 (hitting the first of back-to-back home runs with Aaron Judge). He came up as part of the youth movement that captivated the league once the Yankees decided to become sellers at the deadline. Greg Bird was hurt, Mark Teixeira was retiring and Austin had his best chance to nail down the job.

He seemed primed to compete with the returning Bird for the starting first base job in Spring Training. Disaster struck next. On Feb. 17, 2017, Austin fractured the navicular area of his left foot, and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Yankees then signed veteran Chris Carter to a 1-year deal, and we know how well that turned out.

Austin dropped deep on the first base depth chart while injured. It took the team three weeks to promote him after his rehab assignment ended. His stock dropped so much that Carter and Matt Holliday started over him in those three weeks.

Despite hitting .300 after his rehab assignment ended, Austin struggled to a .154/.200/.385 line in four games before injuring his right hamstring. He missed a month, and found himself back in the minor leagues because the Yankees acquired Garrett Cooper from the Milwaukee Brewers. Cooper himself got hurt in August, and Austin returned.

He homered against Boston’s Chris Sale August 19, which endeared him to Yankees fans again. But, his future became uncertain after the 2017 season ended. The Yankees could have traded him to open an important 40-man roster spot for a younger player. But, they decided to trade Cooper instead. Austin’s defensive versatility and career .361/.432/.722 against left-handed pitching most likely extended his Yankee tenure.

Now, Austin has full control of his own destiny. With games at first base, third base, left field and right field on his résumé, he will be competing with Chase Headley to be a backup corner infielder and right-handed platoon bat. Austin has a better defensive reputation than Headley, and the former can play at more positions. But, Headley is owed $13 million in 2018, and Austin has one more minor league option remaining.

It feels like Austin will have to wow his way onto the Yankees 2018 roster. His spot on the roster will rely on strong defense and good at-bats against left-handers. If he cannot do that, then we will not see much of him in the Bronx


Aaron Hicks Placed on 10-Day DL With Oblique Injury

After departing last night’s game early, outfielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.

Hicks exited after running down a ball hit by Hanley Ramírez in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game. He was replaced in center field in the following inning by Jacoby Ellsbury. Hicks missed 39 games with a right oblique strain earlier this season.

To fill his roster spot, the Yankees pulled a bit of a head-scratcher. They recalled left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees will play at least Sunday’s game with a fourth outfielder named Ronald Torreyes or Matt Holliday. The Yankees have both Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade, each with some corner outfield experience, on the 40-man roster. They could be summoned to the big leagues without the 10-day rule applying because of injury.

Presumably, Ellsbury will start in center field while Hicks is absent.

Aaron Hicks Injury Forces Yankees’ Hand on Cave/McKinney

With Aaron Hicks going down with yet another oblique injury, the Yankees could find themselves in a tough situation that greatly affects their future.

There are still doubts regarding the effectiveness of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s bat. Clint Frazier begins his rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton on Monday. The next top Yankee outfield prospect, Estevan Florial, has yet to crack Double-A with Trenton.

With 40-man rosters, the Yankees could do nothing. But, they need another outfielder to back up Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge. Sure, they could recall Tyler Austin or Tyler Wade, who have experience in the outfield corners. Sure, they could ask Matt Holliday to don an outfield glove and pray nothing bad happens.

Or, they could look to their Nos. 19 and 24 prospects: Jake Cave and Billy McKinney, respectively. Cave, 24, leads the RailRiders in batting average with his .328 clip for the 2017 season. Plus, he is tied with Ji-Man Choi for the team lead in home runs with 15. He has started 28 games in center field for Scranton, as well as 24 in right field and 12 in left field. He has just one error in the outfield this season. At his age, Cave is eligible for the Rule-5 draft. He knows all about that process, having spent 2017 Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds. Cave was returned to the Yankees on April 5, 2016. Cave is also eligible for Minor League free agency after the season.

Billy McKinney, though he profiles as a corner outfielder, could still help the Yankees down the stretch. His .312 average puts him behind just Cave and Miguel Andújar for the best mark on the RailRiders. He, too, has shown a power stroke by clobbering 10 home runs in the International League. He has played both outfield corners regularly. At age 23, the former first round pick is Rule-5 eligible.

Both players have impressed at the highest levels of the minor leagues. A rebuilding team could be willing to take a chance on either player through the Rule-5 Draft since both have shown quality outfield defense and a talented left-handed bat. The Hicks injury essentially forces the Yankees to look at both Cave and McKinney as outfield options down the stretch. They may not trust Ellsbury, and certainly do not want to rush their No. 2 prospect, Clint Frazier, back from injury.

Protecting either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney allows them to keep a valuable future asset in the system while filling a current need on the MLB roster.

Yankees Call Up Five Players as Rosters Expand

September 1 has arrived, and the Yankees have made widely expected roster moves to take advantage of expanded rosters.

With suspensions to Gary Sánchez and Austin Romine looming, the Yankees selected the contract of Erik Kratz from Triple-A. The Yankees traded for him from the Cleveland organization Thursday as depth. The 37-year-old veteran was slashing .270/.359/.472 with 13 home runs for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate. In 225 MLB games, he carries a .200/.248/.362 line. Luis Cessa moves to the 60-day disabled list to open a 40-man roster spot for Kratz.

Matt Holliday returns from the disabled list now that rosters have expanded. The veteran went .229/.349/.257 combined on his rehab assignment at Class-A Advanced Tampa and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It becomes hard to figure where he will get at-bats, given the return of Greg Bird and resurgence of Chase Headley.

The Yankees reinforce the bullpen by adding Ben Heller and Bryan Mitchell. Heller has been fantastic for Triple-A, with a 2.88 ERA and a 13.1 K/9 rate. Mitchell worked as a starter in Scranton, but has pitched mostly in long relief with the big league club. Jordan Montgomery also rejoins the Yankees.

Notable names to stay in the minors are Miguel Andújar, Tyler Austin and Tyler Wade. Both Austin and Wade were optioned to Scranton less than 10 days ago, and cannot come back unless there is an injury. There is no word on whether they will be promoted once 10 days have passed. Andújar, who has been on an offensive tear (currently on a 15-game hitting streak, .333/.379/.531 at Triple-A) remains in the Minors presumably to get full-time at-bats, continue working on his third base defense and help the RailRiders win a championship.

Tigers 2, Yankees 0: Offense Goes Flatter Than Flat

Despite his poor numbers, Tigers’ starter Jordan Zimmermann looked like his old self. He dominated the Yankee offense, scattering six hits over seven innings in a 2-to-0 Yankee loss.

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The Yankees actually out-hit the Tigers, 7-to-6, but the Bombers wasted a quality start from Masahiro Tanaka. Rallies in the second, third and sixth proved to be fruitless for New York. The team was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Tanaka continued to struggle in the first inning, allowing three consecutive hits to start the game. But, he beared down to keep the damage at one run. The Tigers scored again in the fourth inning. Mikie Mahtook walked with two outs, and came around to score on a single and fielding error by Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Yankee offense never got going, stranding eight runners en route to their 0-for-9 line with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the third inning.

The only other Yankee highlight came in the eighth inning, when Dellin Betances set down Jim Adduci, Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera in an immaculate inning. He is the sixth Yankee to accomplish the feat, joining Brandon McCarthy, Iván Nova, A.J. Burnett, Ron Guidry and Al Downing.

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Next up for the Yankees is a four-game series in Cleveland, where Sonny Gray and Jaime García will make their Yankee debuts.

Aaron Hicks collected a single in three trips to the plate during the first game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A. Tyler Austin is expected to join him in Scranton shortly.

Tyler Wade’s Curious Situation

No one has ever questioned the potential of Tyler Wade. Currently ranked as the No. 6 prospect for the Yankees, Wade is proficient everywhere around the diamond. At 22, he has already played 14 games in the big leagues.

Brian Cashman gave Wade a vote of confidence earlier in the season when he said that Wade would be the first name called if the Yankees needed infield reinforcements. With a system that just acquired Gleyber Torres, a top-five prospect in all of baseball, Cashman’s choice of Wade shows just how high the Yankees are on him.

His defense has sparkled, but his bat has yet to show the ability that allowed him to slash .313/.389/.453 for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In his 14 games at the MLB level, Wade has a .136/.224/.227 line that includes 15 strikeouts in 49 plate appearances.

If this was last year, and the Yankees sold at the deadline, Wade would be starting at second base every day until Starlin Castro‘s return. The team’s lack of playoff aspirations in 2016 gave them the opportunity to test the skills of players like Tyler Austin, Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez in the MLB. They found their catcher and right fielder of the future in part because of that experiment.

However, this is a different year, and a different team. The Yankees need Wade to provide quality defense, some base-hits and stolen bases down the stretch. Castro still needs time to heal after his second hamstring injury of the season. But, if Wade continues to struggle at the plate, the second base job will go to Ronald Torreyes. The Yankees only have one other infielder on the 40-man roster: Miguel Andújar. The Yankees want to get his defense at third base serviceable, so there is no way they’d throw him into the second base fire. Wade is the guy to “replace” Castro on the roster.

The Yankees find themselves between a rock and a hard place with Wade. As much as they want him to develop with everyday at-bats, he cannot do so at the expense of the team’s performance. It looks like Torreyes will get the bulk of second base playing time until Castro returns. When Castro returns, Wade will go back to the RailRiders. He has been the target of Yankee fans’ ire because of his inability to instantly contribute at the MLB level. But, Wade has the talent to be a valuable piece down the stretch and into the future.

Yankees Re-DFA Carter, Select Ji-Man Choi

For the second time in less than two weeks, Chris Carter will have to pack his bags. The Yankees designated the 30-year-old first baseman for assignment after Tuesday’s loss. The team announced they had selected the contract of Ji-Man Choi from Triple-A to take his place.

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The Yankees originally DFA’d Carter back on June 24, and he accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A after just four days in limbo. He spent less than 24 hours on the Scranton roster, probably by design, and was recalled to replace the injured Tyler Austin. In four games since his return, Carter was 3-for-15 (.200) with six strikeouts.

On the flip-side, Choi had turned it up a notch at Scranton. The 26-year-old went 13-for-37 (.351) in his last 10 games, with five home runs and 15 RBI in that span. On the season, he is slashing .289/.371/.505 with eight homers and 43 RBIs. He’s likely to be in the lineup tomorrow against Marco Estrada.

As the rules go, Carter is immediately removed from the 25-man and 40-man rosters. The team has 10 days to find a trade partner or release him. If he clears waivers, they can try to outright him again. Carter is able to decline any outright assignment and elect free agency because he has more than three years of MLB service time.

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Game 82: Look Who’s Back

Pitchers CC Sabathia and Adam Warren rejoin the team from the disabled list for this Independence Day matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Sabathia returns to go for his eighth win of the season. He hasn’t pitched since June 13, when he suffered a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring. Prior to that outing, he had won five consecutive starts with a 1.11 ERA in that span. Sabathia has started twice against Toronto this season, and the Yankees have won both times.

Veteran lefty J.A. Happ gets the ball for the Blue Jays. This will be his 10th start of the season as he missed more than a month with left elbow inflammation. In his career, he carries a 6-2 record and 3.78 ERA against the Yankees.

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With the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby looming, Aaron Judge gets another day at designated hitter. Clint Frazier patrols right field in his place. Gary Sánchez remains in the lineup behind the plate, even in the day game after a night game. Ronald Torreyes gets yet another start at second base.

Starlin Castro was seen taking ground balls prior to the game. Joe Girardi also said he was getting cage work. He hopes to be back to attend the All-Star Game in Miami. That’s about the only good injury news the Yankees have gotten.

Greg Bird may need exploratory surgery to figure out what is wrong with his ailing ankle. Similarly, the Yankees still do not know what has been bothering Matt Holliday. What was first explained as food poisoning turned into a viral infection. The team is still waiting on a prognosis for Tyler Austin‘s hamstring strain.

To make room on the roster for Sabathia and Warren’s reinstatements, the Yankees optioned right-handed pitchers Bryan Mitchell and Domingo Germán to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Starting Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays
  1. José Bautista – RF
  2. Russell Martin – C
  3. Josh Donaldson – 3B
  4. Justin Smoak – 1B
  5. Kendrys Morales – DH
  6. Troy Tulowitzki – SS
  7. Steve Pearce – LF
  8. Kevin Pillar – CF
  9. Darwin Barney – 2B
New York Yankees
  1. Brett Gardner – LF
  2. Aaron Judge – DH
  3. Gary Sánchez – C
  4. Didi Gregorius – SS
  5. Chase Headley – 3B
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
  7. Chris Carter – 1B
  8. Ronald Torreyes – 2B
  9. Clint Frazier – RF

Yankees Select Contracts of Dustin Fowler, Chris Carter

UPDATE (6:25 p.m. EDT): The Yankees announced that they have optioned Miguel Andújar back to AAA. He set a Yankee record going 3-for-4 with four RBI in his big league debut. Joe Girardi said they wanted him to continue playing third base every day.

UPDATE (5:55 p.m. EDT): Tyler Austin confirmed to reporters that he is headed to the disabled list. He said he has a “high grade strain” of the hamstring that has been bothering him. His next stop is Tampa, where he will see Dr. Daniel Murphy.

Ahead of the series finale against the White Sox, the Yankees selected the contracts of outfielder Dustin Fowler and first baseman Chris Carter (yes, that Chris Carter) from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

There are no reports regarding corresponding transactions to clear roster space for these players. The lineup card circulated to reporters listed 26 players. One of them was not Tyler Austin, so he is almost certainly headed to the disabled list.

Fowler is considered the most polished outfield prospect in the Yankee system. Carter barely spent 24 hours on the AAA roster, as he accepted his outright assignment just yesterday. The move comes as the Yankees are using backup catcher Austin Romine as the primary first baseman.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the team cleared one 40-man roster spot by designating outfielder Mason Williams for assignment. Williams appeared in five games for the Yankees this season. The Yankees could clear another space by transferring injured first baseman Greg Bird to the 60-day disabled list.

This is a developing story. Please stay tuned for updates as they come in.

Reports: Yankees to Promote Dustin Fowler

One day after nine out of 12 Yankee runs were driven in by homegrown players, the Yankees will add another to the mix: outfielder Dustin Fowler.

Multiple sources are reporting the 22-year-old will join the team prior to Thursday’s series finale against the White Sox. There is no word on a counter transaction to clear space on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters.

Of all the outfielders in the minor league system, Fowler is thought to be the most MLB-ready. He is capable of playing all three outfield positions, and is slashing .293/.329/.542 through 70 minor league games.

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Fowler has received Spring Training invites each of the past three seasons. He excelled in a 15-game sample in 2016, where he slashed .318/.348/.455. 2017 brought a bit of regression, with a .231/.304/.359 line in 24 games. But, he clearly put it together once Spring Training ended.

This promotion shows the Yankees are committed to giving their young talent opportunities at the big league level. No. 11 prospect Tyler Wade got his first hit last night, and No. 9 prospect Miguel Andújar collected three hits and four RBI in his debut.

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Speculation on the move to clear roster space is the fun part. Tyler Austin has been complaining of hamstring soreness for a couple days. The Yanks could place him on the 10-day disabled list to clear 25-man roster space. The 40-man is a more complicated beast. The Yankees would have to designate someone for assignment. But, more simply, they can transfer Greg Bird to the 60-day disabled list and promote Fowler without losing anybody.