This offseason has been a memorable one for 21-year-old prospect Tyler Austin. The right-handed hybrid man, who has split time between the outfield and first base, has been a highly-praised "Yankee of tomorrow," ascertaining prominent rankings in both MLB.com and ESPN.com's Top-100 Prospects lists.
Going through four different levels of the organization last season, Austin maintained batting averages over .300, with the exception of his stint in Double-A Trenton. However, Austin did manage a respectable .286 average thru seven at-bats with the Thunder. Moreover, in his most extensive stay in Single-A Charleston, he batted .320 with 14 round-trippers and 54 RBIs, while also stealing 17 bases. Needless to say, with a lauded prowess at the dish and an impressive fielding percentage over 107 games played last season, his invite to the Major League camp is more than warranted.
However, per Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, it is the success off the field that defines the character and, more importantly, the resiliency of Austin.
When Austin was 17 years old, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, with surgery and further treatment required to alleviate the ailment,
“Tyler had testicular cancer, a fast-growing teratoma tumor. He needed surgery and, perhaps, chemotherapy, too.”
While most would be defeated by such news, Austin's mother, Kim, echoes the sentiment that staring in the face of a horrific disease, the young man was nothing short of resilient and driven, as shown when the family received the news and Mrs. Austin was emotional,
“The fact that I had it was one thing, but seeing her so upset was so terrible for me,” Tyler says. But along with asking his mom not to cry, Tyler told her and his dad, Chris, “I’m going to be fine. He just knew it in his heart,” Kim says. “He’s very spiritual and he knew, ‘I’ve got this.”
Since Austin felt the discomfort early, the discovery of the aforementioned cancer was found and quarantined quickly. In fact, it was discovered so quickly that Austin participated in a high school showcase game in San Diego, just a week after the procedure.
A 13th round pick of the Yankees in the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, Austin will be in the Yankees Major League camp for the first time in his young career.
However, while it's not anticipated he will be in play for the big club until next season at the earliest, Austin has clearly defied the odds before and won on an even bigger stage than that of the baseball diamond. Moreover, it will be fun seeing Austin get an opportunity to get various at-bats in front of the current Major League make-up down in Tampa.
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