2013 BBDP Breakout Candidate: Austin Aune

Austin Aune
Age: 19
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 190-pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Position: SS vs. OF
BBDP Rank: 31

In 2011 the Yankees drafted Sam Stafford with their 2nd round draft pick. He didn’t sign because he had shoulder issues and was not as healthy as advertised. As a result of that, the Yankees received a compensation pick in the 2012 2nd round. They used this extra pick to draft a then 18 year old Austin Aune. Seen as a possible 5-tool player at the time Aune was initially drafted as an outfielder, despite playing shortstop in high school. The Yankees felt he had the tools to be an impact outfielder long term. As crazy as it sounds, Aune could turn the injury to Sam Stafford into one of those great “what if” moments (like “what if” Derek Jeter was drafted before the Yankees pick?).

Shortstop wasn’t the only thing Austin Aune was set to abandon at the time of his signing, which was for $1 million. He also had to abandon his dreams of being a Division I quarterback for Texas Christian University (TCU). He was given a full ride by TCU and at the time of his signing had actually began to practice with the football team (which undoubtedly increased his leverage).

Performance: Before being drafted by the Yankees last season, Aune threw for 3,500 yards and 42 touchdowns during the 2011 high school football season, and followed that performance with a .447 average and eight homeruns in the spring for the baseball team. After signing with the Yankees, he played for the rookie league GCL team. He batted .273/.358/.410 with one homerun there and five steals. He struck out too much and had a whopping 15 errors on the season though.

Tools: This signing was all about athleticism. Let’s face it Aune had to have been a hell of an athlete to throw 42 touchdowns and hit eight homeruns in the same year. Now that he’ll be able to focus all of his efforts on baseball, there’s no telling what his true ceiling will be. Athleticism, however, is not his only calling card.

Speed/Range: His speed is solid, but at his size unlikely to be maintained long term. He has enough quickness to have good range at shortstop. He managed to steal five bases in 2012, but he also got caught five times. He could really go either way on this one, but if I had to predict I would say the speed goes away.

Power: Aune is a big, strong kid who can hit the ball a long way. He still has room to grow into his body though, and he really has the potential to become a powerhouse if things break right. His swing has some serious loft to it, and is much more polished than the rest of his game.

Hit tool: The hit tool is there as well. He has an excellent “all fields” approach and has good contact skills. The strikeouts were excessive in the GCL, but coming from a kid who never played baseball full time before, the significance of that statistic in just his first season is negligible. If he is able to stick at shortstop, his lefty swing could be one of a kind.

Hands: As a shortstop, this is the aspect of Aune’s game that needs the most work. He had 15 errors in his first season, but he still has time to learn the position. It is actually quite unlikely that he sticks at shortstop, but his success is not tied to that position. He can hit more than well enough to play outfield.

Projection: 19 year old kids are hard to project, because the ceiling is always as high as the floor is low. In Austin’s case, a realistic ceiling would be a guy who sticks at shortstop and hits .300 with 20 homeruns per year. The floor is obvious: total bust. My prediction, as always, lies in between the two extremes: solid everyday outfielder.

2013: He’ll likely start in Staten Island. He probably breaks out and hits .320 with 6-8 home runs at that level, officially making a name for himself. Shortstop will continue to be a work in progress for him, but with some improvement, he’ll buy himself another year at the position. With a season like that, he could move from a ranking of 31 to top 10 in one season.

Austin Aune is one of the less heralded prospects in the Yankees system right now. He is especially overshadowed by fellow draftee Ty Hensley. Aune could really come out of nowhere and surprise the prospect world this year. You have to be realistic about a guy like him though. He’s still only 19 years old and has his whole career ahead of him. A lot can go wrong and there is a high rate of failure even amongst the top prospects in the game. To keep in in perspective, Aune is nowhere near that level yet, so you can imagine where his odds are at this point in his career.

All of that said, I am hopeful that Aune can break out this season. I didn’t write this article about him as a breakout candidate for nothing after all. He’s got all the tools and his bat is for real. His ceiling is immense and he will be one of the most exciting prospects to watch in 2013.

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13 Responses to 2013 BBDP Breakout Candidate: Austin Aune

  1. Michael Baker says:

    it really shows you how good the player development guys are now compared to then bc if they had a good player delelopment in say 2009 they would have some good younger players up by now

  2. Michael R. says:

    Every prospect in the Yankee organization will be left to rot and deteriorate while management looks around to sign old guys who can't play anymore.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I don't think this is true. They are only doing this now because they are absolutely desperate for depth at multiple positions. They weren't planning on making any moves even after the Granderson injury. The Teixeira injury has left them reeling.

  3. wally says:

    Tex injury shpould be seen as opp for Mustelier. Simply dumb to look for washed-up veterans when they have a kid who can most likely hit. He should be at least as good as Nix in field too.
    At the very least, they could build up the value of kids like Almonte, Mesa and Musty by playing them for a month. If they fail, their value on trade mart is not much worse than the little they'd fetch now. But if they succeed, Yanks would have new building blocks — which they desperately need — or trade chips. If Juan Rivera succeeds for a month, so what?
    As to Aune, would third base make sense? Usually, shortstops can make switch. Yanks desperately need solid third base prospect– though I realize he's likely four or five years away. In any case, great report on an interesting farmhand.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Yeah, I more saw these reports about the Yankees reaching out to these guys as insurance plans in case Tex is out longer than expected. They most likely wouldn't be ready for the beginning of the season anyway. The young guys will get their month. Even if any of these guys got back in time, they wouldn't be playing everyday. On the other hand you could be completely right, but I guess it won't matter because it doesn't seem likely any will come out of retirement. Assuming you were correct that the Yankees planned on playing these guys full time at third until Tex comes back, then I agree with you 100%. A couple of these guys deserve a shot and there's nothing to lose by giving them that shot.

      As far as moving Aune to third, I think it's tough to say at this point. They need a good 3B prospect but I don't think that's a reason to switch someone there. I think you put each guy at whatever position gives them the best shot to succeed. You can make up for not having a 3B prospect by having better depth at SS or OF.

  4. regaleagle says:

    Aune has always been a fierce competitor and one of the best at his position in every sport he played. He not only has great athleticism, he has the mindset and demeanor of a natural leader. Given time and coaching, he will surprise and surpass, IMO. I don't really see a downside on this particular player. I wouldn't bet against him losing speed earlly in his career, either. For his frame, he's very quick and has good feet. He was a passing qb that also gained lots of yards with his quickness and speed. This kid is special.

  5. tim says:

    what team is aune playing on?

  6. Tom says:

    Where is he playing?

    • I don't believe he's hurt. He's probably just playing in extended Spring Training while waiting for the Staten Island Yankees to start. Not completely sure, but that seems likely.

  7. pete crooker says:

    Rob, Aune is not on the Staten Island roster. Where is he?? Thanks, Pete

  8. Guest says:

    Aune is with one of the Gulf Coast League teams and hitting below his weight.

    • MR.B Brent McMahon says:

      I had the privilege of Coaching Austin at a very young age and at 9-12 years old he just was a special kid !! I always told his parents to enjoy the ride , he excels in all sports not only baseball , football , but he'll take your money in golf as well .. He will outwork em , n do what he needs to – he comes from great parents as well – nothing surprises me about Austin .. Hey buddy I'm proud of you – keep it up my friend !! MR.B

  9. tara says:

    Omg Austin Aune is so hott! I can wait to see him at a game this year I will be drooling over him the whole game. The Yankees did a good job for getting a young guy like him pound of you Yankees! xoxo