'Dogs' Austin plates career-high seven

Yankees prospect records second two-homer game in April

By Andrew Pentis / Special to MLB.com | April 28, 2012 6:44 PM ET

Sandwiched between Dante Bichette Jr. and Gary Sanchez -- both among the Yankees' top eight prospects -- in Class A Charleston's lineup, it stands to reason that Tyler Austin is seeing plenty of good pitches to hit.

Lately, he's been hitting them far.

New York's No. 15 prospect smacked two home runs and collected a career-high seven RBIs on Saturday evening in the Charleston RiverDogs' 14-9 road victory over the Hickory Crawdads.

Who's protecting whom in the talent-laden lineup?

"Our whole team, from top to bottom," the cleanup hitter said. "Everybody is getting the pitches they want because they don't want to face any of us."

That's fair, but no one is taking advantage quite like Austin. The 20-year-old right fielder struck a solo shot off Crawdads starter Victor Payano in the third inning.

"Just getting a good pitch and taking advantage of it," Austin said. "He threw a fastball low and away, then a fastball letter-high, and that's the pitch I hit out."

Austin hit a two-out grand slam against reliever Nicholas McBride (2-1), finishing a six-run ninth.

"First-pitch slider, [McBride] left it up and I put a good swing on it," said Austin, who also plated runs with a sacrifice fly in the first and on a groundout in the eighth.

The Yankees' 13th-round pick in the 2010 Draft leads the Class A South Atlantic League in homers (eight), total bases (67) and slugging (.870) and ranks fourth in batting (.364) through 20 games.

Austin's only other two-homer game as a pro occurred on April 12, when he plated three runs in a 9-3 victory over Rome. The next day, he went 4-for-4 to cap a stellar week.

The right-handed hitter's previous single-game best in RBIs was four, accomplished when he went 6-for-6 with four extra-base hits and four runs scored as a member of the short-season Staten Island Yankees last Aug. 21.

"That was the only game I enjoyed more," Austin said, "but this was a career highlight."

Austin played third base in the New York-Penn League and first base in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year and said his switch to the outfield this season is a factor in his success.

"I feel really comfortable in right field. It has eased my mind" at the plate, Austin said. Last year, "I'd come off a bad inning at third [base]. [Playing right field] has helped me at the plate. ... It all starts in [batting practice] and doing the right things, taking quality swings."

Austin was one of four RiverDogs with multi-hit games. Mason Williams and Cito Culver, both among the Yankees' top nine prospects, went 3-for-5 and combined to drive in five runs.

Crawdads designated hitter Rougned Odor homered, doubled and collected three RBIs in defeat.

Payano yielded four runs on four hits and four walks over five frames.

RiverDogs right-hander Jose Campos struggled for the first time in five starts, giving up eight runs on seven hits and three walks over 2 2/3 frames. Fred Lewis (3-0) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless frames to earn the win.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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