Jay Austin Scouting Report (2009)
At 18, the Houston Astros aggressively promoted Jay Austion to the Sally after posting a paltry .198/.277/.236 line while stealing 14 bases in 20 attempts. Currently, Austin sports a .224/.281/.279 including 8 steals in 16 attempts; Not quite the table setter the Astros expected when he was drafted 56th overall in the 2008 draft. However, he was arguably the best player on the field the evening I watched him play as he logged two hits, a stolen base, and three runs scored in leading Lexington to victory. Maybe I saw Austin at his absolute best, nonetheless, it was a glimpse into what Austion could be.
Physique & Athleticism – His listed height of 5’11” seemed about right as I sat just a few feet away from him watching Ross Seaton warm up in the bullpen. He looked lean and strong with the ability to possibly pack 10-15 more pounds of muscle onto his frame without losing much speed. An excellent athlete, he’s definitely more tools than production at this point and will likely need ample time to adjust to professional baseball.
Offense – A pure speedster, Austin has a good understanding of his job at the plate. He burned the a shallow playing Gnats left fielder for a double, took another pitch for a line drive to left center field, and hit a couple of ground balls up the middle. Austin’s bat control was advanced for his age and level, and I’m surprised the player I watched has struggled to remain above the Mendoza line throughout his young career. One concern is his lack of pop as he doesn’t project to hit for much, if any power. What adjustments will Austin make now that outfielders are starting to really play shallow. From a statistical standpoint, his K% dropping 11.2% from rookie level to A, as well as a seemingly low career BABIP of .282, Austin might just start clicking sooner rather than later.
Speed – Austin’s struggles stealing bases may come from a slow first step. Once at full speed, he’s as fast as they come, but it did take him a few steps to get the wheels moving. During the game, he scored easily on a single which would have been, at best a bang bang play for most baserunners. He also scored easily from first on a double and stole a base with ease. Expect Austin’s stolen base percentages to improve with experience as stealing bases is more of an acquired skill than many understand.
Defense – With plenty of speed to burn, Austin is able to cover quite a bit of ground. In game action, he charged a routine single and attempted to throw an advancing runner out. The one throw was enough for me to seriously question Austin’s arm strength and his ability to have even an average arm in the future.
Austin’s statistics don’t tell the whole story about his game. He simply needs time for his athleticism to translate into production. At 18, he could even repeat the Sally in 2010 and be young for the league. Patience will be key for the Astros….and prospect junkies as Austin might not be ready for top prospect status until 2011.
18 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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