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School: N.C. State; Class: Junior
Position: C; B/T: :B/R
Height: 6-1; Weight: 190 pounds
Previously Drafted: San Diego Padres, 1st round, 2011
Background: See, it’s not just pitchers that pass up guaranteed big money to head to college where they (predictably) stumble. For every Gerrit Cole there are more than a few players like Brett Austin or Matt Purke, who took or will take a lot less money coming out of college.
The Padres grabbed Austin in the supplemental first round in 2011, 28 picks ahead of the club’s second round pick, Austin Hedges, who currently ranks as the organization’s second overall prospect.
For his part, Austin’s draft stock has rebounded nicely after two subpar years. Coming on the heels of back-to-back showings of .284/.350/.362 and .251/.333/.361, the switch-hitting catcher’s bat has awakened from its slumber. Through his first 37 games (171 PA) this season, Austin’s hitting a robust .333/.411/.456 with nine doubles, three triples, and one homerun.
Projection: Switch-hitting catchers are typically a rather hot commodity, especially those that can hit their respective weight. Now the bad part, Austin’s bat really isn’t anything special – he’s slugged three homeruns in two-plus seasons, owns an average-ish eye at the plate, and has basically hit for 37 games of his collegiate career. And his defensive chops aren’t enough to make him vault any further up the draft charts.
Long term backup, nice organizational depth. Some team will pounce on him sooner than they should, thanks to his offensive explosion this season and the “former first round” tag that is clearly hanging over his head, but there’s just not enough upside to justify anything higher than the third or fourth round.
Ceiling: 1.0-win player
Floor: Replacement Level to 0.5-win player
Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average
Draft Projection: Third or Fourth Round
Photo Courtesy of NCSU Student Media via technicianonline.com.