Austin Slowly Coming Around

Austin has hit safely in 6 of his last 8 games

TRENTON, NJ - To say that expectations for right fielder Tyler Austin this season are high would be an understatement. Injuries have plagued his Double-A career thus far, however, but now that he is finally healthy again, Austin's talents are slowly beginning to emerge with the Trenton Thunder.

In his first season following the 2010 draft, he was cleaning up in single-A ball hitting well over .300. In the latter stages of the 2012 season, he got his opportunity in Double-A as he was called up by the Trenton Thunder.

Following tremendous 2011 and 2012 campaigns, Austin hit a brick wall at the plate. He had a sub-par season for Trenton in 2013, and has gotten off to a slow start here in 2014.

Trenton hitting coach Marcus Thames is well aware of the recent struggles that Austin has encountered. He knows that Austin is a talented player, but needs to keep putting in the work to reach his full potential.

"He started off a little slow and he started the season late, but recently he has been working very hard," Thames said. "He was a little quick early but we have been working, and here in the last couple of weeks he has been doing much better."

As of right now, there are still several gray areas in his game that pitchers have been exploiting. However, Thames feels confident that Austin is adjusting well and is continuing to put in the necessary effort to solve his plate issues.

"We have to keep him in the middle of the diamond so he can stay through the ball longer and give him a better chance on hitting other than one pitch so he can use the whole field," Thames added. "You cannot just look at power numbers; that stuff just happens. You have to be a better hitter before you can hit for power."

Some of his difficulties at the plate in his first two seasons with the Thunder had to do with his physical condition. Austin has been bitten by the injury bug several times in the past few months which has delayed his progression as a professional player.

Spring Training this year was supposed to be Austin's time to shine. However, a wrist injury kept him off the field and he did not have the opportunity to show coaches at the upper level his full potential.

"I was set back by a wrist injury and I didn't really get to do too much," Austin said. "It is always frustrating not to get an opportunity to participate with those guys in a game, but you've just got to learn from it and move on."

Austin mentioned that his wrist has fully healed and he has had no issues with it since the beginning of the season. However, a few weeks ago he found himself on the shelf again due to a "lower body injury".

He has been unlucky in a sense that he has had to deal with several physical ailments this season. Now that his injuries are behind him for now, he is working on progressing towards becoming the player he once was.

"I am feeling great [physically]," Austin said. "I am feeling pretty well defensively and offensively it is coming around."

Coach Thames has been impressed with his work ethic lately as the two of them have spent extra time working on Austin's approach at the plate.

"We got out here early the other day just to keep pounding on the drills and pounding on his approach to get him where he needs to be," Thames said. "He hit a home run the other night out to centerfield and that was really impressive. That let me know he is moving in the right direction."

The hard work that Austin has put in with Thames as of late is starting to pay off. In the past week or so, he has been hitting for a higher average and his on base percentage is beginning to climb. Austin feels confident in his ability and believes he is ready to hit his stride offensively.

"It is starting to come around and it is going to take time, but it is a learning process and that is what we are going through right now," Austin said. "I am happy where I am right now."

With the season now more than two months old, the Thunder find themselves in the middle of the pack in the standings. Now that Austin is at 100 percent, look for him to become a consistent performer both offensively and defensively.

"I just want to continue to help the team win in anyway," Austin said. "This is a good team and ultimately we want to win a championship."

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