Wednesday, August 29, 2012

State of the System (Tyler Austin, Tampa Pen, David Adams)

*Coming into the 2012 season, Tyler Austin was only a name that the most diehard of Yankee prospect followers knew. As a Charleston RiverDog, he went on to decimate South Atlantic League pitching to the tune of a 1.002 OPS for 70 games before getting the call to the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. One might think that there would be an adjustment period until Austin got acclimated to the new level. Not so much. If there was any struggle, it was miniscule because as of this day, he has put up an OPS of .861 to go along with an On-Base Percentage of .395 in 31 games. The only potential concern with his game was his ability to transition successfully to Right Field. There have been no issues at all. His meteoric rise, not only on Yankee prospects lists, but nationally, has seen Austin jump onto Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospect List. He clocked in at #39. With his combination of hitting ability, power, on base skills, and surprising speed, he is looking more and more like the future everyday Right Fielder for the New York Yankees. Without a young, impact player currently holding down the position, it looks even more likely.

*The Tampa Yankees has an intriguing amount of power arms in their bullpen. The star of the pen was Mark Montgomery before getting a late season call up to the Trenton Thunder. Armed with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, his slider has been said to be “unhittable” by Jim Callis of Baseball America. His strikeout numbers back that up. There is also Manny Barreda, a former starting pitcher who has been committed to the bullpen. While his command needs some fine tuning, he still possesses the necessary stuff to be an effective member out of any big league bullpen. Another guy that does not get enough credit is Tommy Kahnle, who sits in the mid-90s with a changeup as his secondary weapon of choice. It is kind of surprising that he is still in Tampa because he has hardly been challenged all season long. With 71 strikeouts in 54 innings, he has an ERA of 2.33 and a WHIP of 0.96. His numbers since the All Star break are even better than that so it really is a mystery as to why he is still overwhelming hitters in the Florida State League. The New York Yankees should never be in the Free Agent market for overpriced bullpen help when you have a fast tracked core that could be a year away from making it to the Bronx.

*With A-Rod getting older and more injury prone, it is going to be vital that the Yankees look to find their Third Baseman of the future. It appears that they are beginning to explore that option in newly minted Trenton Thunder Third Baseman, David Adams. A Second Baseman by trade, the Yankees appear to finally realize that a change had to be made. With Robinson Cano holding down the position in the Bronx and is most likely going nowhere (who knows with Boras), Third Base was the only other position for Mr. Adams. He sort of fell off the prospect map for a while due to the ankle injury but he is re-establishing himself with Trenton this season. He is hitting .315 with an OBP of .393 and an OPS of .858 to go along with it. He’s only recently been converted to third so he is still getting used to the hot corner but he still has the bat to be a very good hitter at the Major League level. Am I saying that he is without question, the Third Baseman of the future? No. But I am glad to see the Yankees are actually exploring the idea by moving him off of second. Alex cannot play third for the duration of his contract, and the Yankees need to give their young position players a shot. Adams is easily AAA ready, and he has been for a while. It is possible that he can break in with the big team sometime next season assuming he stays healthy.

Twitter: @trevwolff

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