2012 second round pick Austin Aune already looks like a failed prospect

Two years ago, the Yankees used their second round draft pick on Austin Aune, a high school shortstop from Argyle, Texas. That decision isn’t looking like a good one so far. Over 328 plate appearances in rookie ball, Aune’s hit just .231/.294/.332, including a downright dismal .192/.230/.263 showing last year where he struck out a whopping 43.6% of the time — over twice the league average of 20.4%. Aune was all sorts of terrible last season, but at the same time, he was only 19 years old, and we’re only dealing with 165 plate appearances. Should two and a half bad months be enough to give up on what was a fairly high-end prospect?

Luckily, we have years of draft data and minor league stats to help answer that question. Most alarming about Aune’s 2013 was his 44% strikeout rate, which was a  26 percentage points above the 2013 Gulf Coast League average. Over the past two decades, there have been 37 seasons in rookie ball (minimum 150 PA’s) where a player has posted a strikeout rate at least 20 percentage points above their league’s average. Only one of those players — Casper Wells ever cracked the big leagues. And unlike Aune, Wells at least managed an above-average walk rate despite striking out 22% more often than the league. In fact, no player with strikeout and walk numbers remotely close to Aune’s has ever made it to the bigs:


As if that wasn’t enough, Aune’s also been moved from shortstop to right field since draft day. I have no idea what type of an outfielder Aune is, but in general, corner outfielders provide much less defensive value than shortstops. Clearly, this all doesn’t bode well Aune. No player has ever bounced back from a stat line as poor as his 2013 campaign, and now that he’s no longer a shortstop, his odds are even longer. Aune’s less than two years removed from being picked in the second round, but his future as a professional baseball player looks extremely dim.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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7 Responses to 2012 second round pick Austin Aune already looks like a failed prospect

  1. KP says:

    WOW! Chris…you are a stud! Amazing how you can judge failure, gather facts and even provide graphics to prove a young man has met failure. So impressive and what a great inspiration you are to others. I am sure you are proud of your work. So if Aune was drafted for OF (refer to 2012 draft day) and he played SS for a short stint I don’t know what all the scuttle is about the transition. My recommendation to young men who have such a life time dream and opportunity….don’t put yourself out there because if you stumble…..Chris will find you and exploit you. Sweet Jesus..give this man some humanity and dignity!

    • Chris says:

      I have nothing against Aune, and as a Yankees fan, I hope he has a long and productive career. But just looking at the facts, his odds aren’t all that favorable. All I’m saying is that players who’ve had years similar to Aune’s 2013 tend not to pan out.

      And as for the shortstop/outfield point, I’m saying he’ll have a harder time making it as a right fielder than if he were able to stick at shortstop. There are plenty of light-hitting shortstops, but you have to be a pretty good hitter to make it as an outfielder in the bigs.

  2. Slime says:

    Dude…..there’s no good wishes. According to you he’s already failed. Reread your article. I say keep at it Aune and best of luck as you battle through this.

  3. regaleagle says:

    Austin Aune was a 2-sport athlete in high school, with an emphasis spent on football in the state of Texas where football is king. Baseball was a side sport he just happened to have all the tools to excel at. He’s not your “normal” minor league draftee with tons of baseball coaching background….he’s a young 20 y.o. “green” work in progress highly athletic player with a huge upside. This particular player will probably need more work and seasoning before he shows his best. In fact, what he has done so far could be said to be expected….a good showing his first short season, then a fall-off from the changes and adjustments he’s undergoing in his development for longterm success. If the organization can support him and he can stay positive through this transition, I think you’ll see a surprising turnaround in Aune as he matures in this sport.

    • Chris says:

      I understand that Aune is relatively new to baseball and his skills are unrefined, but players who are that raw almost never make it. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus wrote a piece on this a couple of years ago and concluded that there’s never been a super-raw, multi-sport type who’s developed into a star. Aune’s obviously a tremendous athlete and the Yankees should continue to give him chances, but his performance so far just doesn’t bode well. I have nothing against Aune and I genuinely hope he pans out, but history suggests the odds are heavily stacked against him.

  4. Wayne says:

    I have no idea why people are trying to turn this basically straight-forward article into a personal attack on Aune. Some of you readers are reading too much into the article.

    Chris is correct in stating that at this juncture in his professional career he hasn’t played up too the level that you would expect for a high-round selection. That’s a fact: he hasn’t played well, and all available evidence indicates he’s unlikely to tun it around, based on historical residence. That’s all Chris is saying.

    Can Aune turn it around? Yes, anything is possible, and I have no problem with the Yankees sticking with him for another year or two, but the fact is he has a long way to go in development to even be considered a possible MLB prospect.

    Chill out, guys: 99% of prospects fail because of lack of MLB-level talent or because of injuries.

  5. Really says:

    LOL, your comments show how little you really know about Austin. Austin has played baseball at a high level since he could walk. I know, he played with my son and grew up with him. We all knew Austin had MLB potential from the time he was 7 years old. He didn’t start playing football until middle school.

    You experts can continue to pontificate now about things you know nothing about. I am done.

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