Aune Starting To Feel Like A Pro

Aune went 1-2 with a walk on Monday at Instructs

Yankees' second round pick Austin Aune had a solid debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this year, hitting .273 with fourteen extra-base hits and getting his reps in at shortstop. Originally thought to be going to TCU to be playing quarterback for the Horned Frogs, Aune admits that even though he misses football some days, he is beginning to feel like a professional baseball player.

"I thought I had a good season," Aune said. "I had my ups and downs but that's what I expected going in. I didn't expect to be perfect but I had a lot of fun and overall I thought I did good.

"I would say the batting part of it [were the ups] and the fielding part of it -- they kept me at shortstop so I'm going to have to learn a lot.

"Hitting too, in high school you had a high batting average all year but once you get here you need to learn how hitting .300 is good. In high school it's not. It was fun though."

The multi-sport star from Argyle High School in Texas was originally tabbed to be a centerfielder after the Yankees selected him in the second round of this year's draft, but those plans changed immediately.

"In high school I was a shortstop. I got drafted in centerfield but when I got down here to the [minor league] complex they told me they wanted to keep me at shortstop because they had good success teaching guys how to play the position," he said.

So not only did he have to adjust to the professional game and give up one of his major passions in life [football] too, but he had to change gears on the fly as well. That is quite a few adjustments for a first-year teenager.

"The hardest adjustment -- the speed of the game is really fast at first," he admitted. "It was for me playing at shortstop and then the speed of the pitching obviously, at first it was coming out of high school but once I made that adjustment it was fine. It just becomes an everyday thing.

"In high school I saw a lot of offspeed so for me it was just adjusting to the fastball. Coming from a small school in Texas the fastest [fastball] we saw was 93 mph and the average fastball was probably 83 mph. Now everybody's hitting 95 mph and averaging 90 mph, so that was the only difficult part."

His transition at the plate went a lot smoother than in the field and the numbers bear that out. He committed a team-high 15 errors and they came both with the glove and on errant throws.

"It was a combination of both but a little more on the throwing," he revealed. "When my footwork wasn't right I'd rush the ball and it would go high or I'd throw it offline because my feet weren't set right, just little things that I'm working on right now.

"Just getting to know the game better -- my angles, my hands, my footwork, being in different places, adjusting to hitters -- it's a lot of stuff and I didn't realize it was that much. I'm learning so much, especially in Instructs.

"Defensively I'm confident right now. I'm going out there everyday trying to get better. There's no lack of confidence there."

As is the case with most first-year pros, he's been soaking as much information in as possible and he feels his game continually growing, especially considering this is really the first time in his life that he's been able to focus solely on baseball.

"Improving on my defense and keep hitting the ball -- for me this is great because the last four years I've been playing football this time of year," he said. "I hadn't been swinging the bat so swinging the bat this much has really helped me.

"I want to keep swinging the bat well and keep getting better defensively. Discipline of the strike zone, not chasing balls -- I get myself out mostly on bad pitches so right now I want to learn discipline of the strike zone.

"Once I got adjusted to the speed -- when you're not used to the speed you're rushing everything -- once I got used to the speed it all slowed down for me and I kind of learned the strike zone better."

He is honest about missing football, especially after watching TCU beat the University of Virginia this past week, but with a Gulf Coast League season under his belt and now getting intense one-on-one training at Instructs in Tampa before being scheduled to do more of the same at Dominican Instructs next month too, he can't but help feeling like a pro baseball player these days.

"I am. I've never played baseball this much before so I'm at the point where I'm realizing that this is my job, I'm a professional baseball player," he concluded.

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