Christopher Tyler Austin
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 219 lb.
- High School Heritage High School
- Debut August 13, 2016
Tyler Austin hit .354 in his first full minor league season.
Austin was picked by the New York Yankees in the 13th round of the 2010 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Darryl Monroe for $130,000 and made his pro debut that summer. He went 0 for 2 with two times hit-by-pitch that summer for the GCL Yankees before a left hand fracture ended his season. In 2011, he played for the GCL Yankees again (.390/.438/.622, 22 RBI in 20 G) and for the Staten Island Yankees (.323/.402/.542 in 27 G). Overall, he had 29 runs and 36 RBI in 47 games while stealing 18 bases in 18 tries. He fielded .983 at first base and .906 at third base. Baseball America ranked him as the 8th-best prospect in the New York-Penn League, between Tony Wolters and Nick Kingham.
Tyler moved to right field with the 2012 Charleston RiverDogs but remained red-hot at the plate. He hit .320/.405/.598 with 69 runs and 14 home runs in his first 70 games, with 17 steals in 19 tries. He was battling Alen Hanson for the South Atlantic League OPS lead. He then was chosen for the US team in the 2012 Futures Game but did not play in their 17-5 romp over the World squad. He was then promoted to the Tampa Yankees. He hit .321 in 26 games for Tampa, then got a two-game look at AA with the Trenton Thunder to conclude the season with a combined line of .322/.400/.559, with 35 doubles, 17 homers and 80 RBIs. It looked like he would be up in the Bronx in no time, but it took longer than anticipated. His 2013 season was cut to 85 games because of an injury, with most of his playing time coming with Trenton. He hit only .257 with the Thunder with only 6 homers and 40 RBIs. He repeated the level in 2013 and hit .275 in 105 games with 9 homers and 47 RBIs. They were decent numbers, but not those of a budding superstar as those of his first few seasons had been.
2015 marked his third straight year starting off at Trenton, but this time he was promoted to the AAA International League after 21 games of hitting .260. With the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, he hit only .235 for a combined batting line of .240/.315/.343 in 94 games, with only 6 homers for a player expected to be a power threat. His lack of progress could have led to his being released, but the Yankees gave him another chance and in 2016, back to Trenton he went. He hit .260 in 50 games, was promoted back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and there, things finally clicked. In his next 57 games, he hit a scorching .323 with 24 doubles and 13 homers to earn the long-awaited promotion to the Show.
In his major league debut for the Yankees on August 13, 2016, he played first base and batted 6th against the Tampa Bay Rays, one day after former superstar Alex Rodriguez played his farewell game for the Bronx Bombers. In his first career at-bat, coming in the 2nd inning facing Matt Andriese, he homered to right field to open the score. Fellow rookie Aaron Judge, also making his debut, following him by also going deep in his first at-bat, something unprecedented in big league history. Tyler went 2 for 4 in his debut, and the Yankees were 8-4 winners. On September 8th, he hit a walk-off home run off Erasmo Ramirez of the Tampa Bay Rays with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to give New York a 5-4 win. It was the fifth straight victory by the Yankees, who had been playing very well since starting their youth movement and were now in the thick of the chase for a wild card slot. In 31 games, he hit .241 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs.
Heading into 2017, with Mark Teixeira having retired, he was expected to compete for the Yankees' first base job with Greg Bird, coming back from a one-year layoff due to injury. However, things hit a snag when spring training started as he was diagnosed with a small fracture in his left foot, putting him on the shelf for six weeks. He was called up for four games in June, going 2 for 13 with a homer before returning to the minors. His injuries prevented him from seizing an opportunity to establish himself in the majors, given that Bird was injured as well and potential replacements such as Chris Carter and Ji-Man Choi failed to take over the spot. The Yankees went out and acquired a very similar player in Garrett Cooper, another minor league veteran with power, and he had some success in early August, but he was injured as well. Austin thus came back on August 17th and did not waste his chance, going 2 for 4 in his first game, and then on August 19th, connecting for a three-run homer against Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox in his first at-bat of the game, before slugging a ball to the deepest part of Fenway Park his next time up, only to see CF Jackie Bradley deprive him of extra bases with a leaping catch against the wall. He added a double in the 9th as the Yankees won the game, 4-3. He ended up hitting .225 in 20 games with 2 homers and 8 RBIs. Bird was finally healthy down the stretch and took over first base for the final few weeks of the season and for the postseason.
Austin was considered an outsider to make the Opening Day roster in 2018, but another injury to Bird resulted in his starting at first base on Opening Day. Facing Toronto Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ on March 29th, he did not collect a hit. He had to wait for his next start, on March 31st, to do so, when he homered twice in a 5-3 loss to the Jays. On April 11th, he was at the center of two incidents in a 10-7 win over the Boston Red Sox. In the 3rd inning, he slid hard into SS Brock Holt in an attempt to break up a double play, leading to the two benches emptying, then in the 7th, he was plunked in the back by a 97 mph fastball from Joe Kelly. He had no doubt that this was in retaliation for the earlier play and charged the mound, resulting in both benches emptying again. Both he and Kelly were ejected, as were his third base coach, Phil Nevin and reliever Tommy Kahnle. He was suspended for 5 games and Kelly for 6, although his suspension was reduced to four games on appeal. He hit .223 with 8 homers and 23 RBIs in 34 games but was sent back to the minors in mid-June. On July 30th, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins along with pitching prospect Luis Rijo in return for P Lance Lynn. The Yankees had acquired another first baseman, Luke Voit, in another trade the day before, making Austin redundant. He was called up to Minnesota on August 11th, when Logan Morrison went on the disabled list with a season-ending hip injury and in his first game for new team homered off Francisco Liriano in a 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. He hit .236 in 35 games for the Twins, with 9 homers and 24 RBIs.
Austin started the 2019 season with the Twins but went just 1 for 4 in two games before being designated for assignment on April 6th. Two days later, on April 8th, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in return for minor leaguer Malique Ziegler.
Source: 2012 Yankees Media Guide