Cleat Geeks

Friday Feelgood; My Favorite Yankee

Tyler Austin
A little backstory before the article. In 2011 when I first heard of Tyler Austin the first thing I heard about was his battle with cancer. At the time we had a close friend that was battling cancer. Tyler Austin’s story inspired me. It is exactly what America is all about. His story is heart warming, and defines courage and the fighting spirit. Tyler Austin is the definition of a warrior. Being a long time fan of Austin, you can imagine my excitement when in his first big league at bat he went yard at Yankee Stadium. After years of waiting to see him play at the big league level I was overjoyed. Tyler Austin is by far my favorite Yankee. He is everything that embodies a true Yankee, and strength to keep going on. Below is the story of my favorite Yankee.
Tyler Austin attended Heritage High School in Georgia. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter and he grew up in wanting to play one day for the same team as Derek Jeter, The New York Yankees. Austin was tearing a part his high school league. His sophomore season he batted .626 with 19 home runs. The Rockdale citizen newspaper named him the top hitter in the area after his record season.
Soon things would change for the worse. At the age of 17 Tyler Austin was told the word no one ever wants to hear. He had testicular cancer and it may or may not require chemotherapy. His mother, Kim Austin said that he was calm the entire time and maintained faith and promised her that he would be fine. After a surgery to remove a tumor and stitches only a week and a half later he played in a high school show case game at Petco Park the home of the San Diego Padres. After the game he would go back to the hospital to find out the cancer did not spread and he would not need chemotherapy.
He ended up being drafted in the thirteenth round by The New York Yankees. His dream of playing for the same organization as his childhood hero, Derek Jeter was becoming a reality. His first professional season was 2011, and he came out of the gate hot. He batted .354 over 47 games while slugging 6 homers and knocking in thirty six runs. He followed up that great performance with an encore in 2012. Austin added a stellar 2012 season to his resume batting .322 and hitting 17 home runs and batting in 80 runs.tyler_austin_thunder
After just 159 professional games Austin got his promotion to AA ball with the Trenton Thunder and cracked the top 50 in Baseball America’s top prospect list. 2013 was a bit of a different story for Austin he struggled all season with a nagging wrist that kept him sidelined and brought his average down to .275 on the year. His next two seasons would go woefully and in 2015 he batted just .240 with 6 home runs and 35 runs batted in over the course of 94 games. On September 1, 2015 Tyler Austin was designated for assignment by the Yankees. Though many thought it was likely that one team would claim him all thirty teams passed on him. Tyler Austin had now lost his spot on the 40 man roster and his hopes of being a major league ball player were getting dimmer each day.
Coming into the 2016 season, Tyler Austin found himself in a very similar setting. Double A playing for the Trenton Thunder. He had called this place home for parts of five professional seasons now after getting to that level so early in his career. This year though he brought with himself a different mindset. He told himself that he was going to go out and play the game that he loved and have fun while doing it. His wrists were feeling better and he got back to enjoying the game he loved. After making minor changes to his approach Austin earned his call up to triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.autinjudgepostgameinterview
Tyler Austin responded to his new promotion by coming out on fire. He batted a staggering .323 in AAA along with 13 homers and 49 runs batted in. While Austin continued to smash the baseball Yankee fans became more and more restless to see him play at the major league level. When the Yankees announced the release of Alex Rodriguez there was a lot of speculation of who would get the call. For a week there were debates and questions of who would get the call. Finally Saturday August the thirteenth Austin got his chance to wear the same pinstripes that his childhood idol Derek Jeter wore. Even better, his first game would be during the 1996 20 year anniversary ceremony where he was able to meet all of the players from that team including his childhood hero, Derek Jeter. To go along with that the Yankees shocked the baseball world by quietly calling up a friend of Tyler Austin’s by the name of Aaron Judge.
In the bottom of the second Tyler Austin came up to bat for the first time as a New York Yankee. After fouling off a few pitches and working the count to 2-2. Austin took a 92mph outside fastball and deposited it into the seats in right field for a home run in his first big league at bat. Not to be outdone that would lead to history when Aaron Judge followed up with a home run of his own. That made them the only duo to homer on the same day in their debut’s. Austin would finish his first big league game by going 2 for 4 with a home run and a stolen base.

Tyler Austin looks like he could have a bright future ahead of him in pinstripes. With a newfound approach at the plate Austin is hoping to capitalize on his historic first day in the bigs. He has always maintained a very strong mindset, and to overcome the things that he has been through in his life. You have to have a special type of mindset to stay positive after everything he has been through in his life. You know that you will get one hundred percent from him everyday, and he will come to the ball park ready to play. It should be fun watching him and continuing to see him develop. He has come a long way from cancer survivor to Major League Baseball player. Regardless of what Austin’s future awaits him in baseball. He can be assured that his future is bright and that he can be successful at whatever he wants to do.

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