(Courtesy of Mark LoMoglio)
Give the Yankees credit for leaving no stone unturned in their search to find a long-term replacement for Alex Rodriguez at third base. Earlier this week, Chad Jennings of LoHud had some Minor League news bits, and one of them mentioned Yankee brass giving thought to moving top prospect Tyler Austin back to third. By the sounds of Chad's report, we aren't going to be seeing Austin back at the hot corner next season, but it also didn't sound like the idea of was ruled out completely.
“He’s a better defender in right,” vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said. “But (putting him back at third) is something we’ve thought about. It’s a possibility.”
Austin was originally drafted as a catcher, quickly moved to third base last season, and then moved to right field almost as quickly. Far be it for me to tell the Yankees where he's best suited in the field, but I think if it was already decided that he might not be able to handle third base, then he and the Yankees are better off not moving him to third base and keeping him right where he is in right.
Let's face it, Austin isn't going to win any Gold Gloves at the Major League level. His bat is what's carrying him through the Minors right now and it's what's going to carry him to the show if he keeps hitting like this. While the Yankees do need a more permanent solution at third base than Kevin Youkilis, they could also use one in right field. Ichiro is only signed for 2 years, and could probably use a right-handed platoon partner in right as it is. If Austin has picked up the defensive nuances of right field well enough to play it full time, keep him right there, let his bat continue to do its thing, and maybe he ends up being that right-handed platoon bat in 2014 as a way to break into the Majors. The Yankees don't have great success trying to move their young players to new positions, and I'd rather not see Austin's development hit a speed bump because of more defensive musical chairs.