Here’s why Yankees are betting on Tyler Austin at first base

NEW YORK — The euphoria was short-lived for Chris Carter.

The Yankees told Carter to pack his bags minutes after Ronald Torreyeswalk-off single in a 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers electrified Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The team designated the struggling first baseman for assignment and called up the 25-year-old Tyler Austin.

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Here’s what you need to know about Austin:

He’s on a roll: Austin, who’s hitting .300 in 32 games, has been scorching the ball at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After he went 2-for-4 with a double Friday, he had six hits in his last 15 at-bats. He’s also homered in three of his last four games. Austin didn’t play his first game until May 20 this season. He missed most of spring training and the first part of the season with a broken left foot.

What changed GM Brian Cashman’s mind? Hard to say what played a bigger factor in getting Austin to the majors: Carter’s poor play or Austin’s roll. Carter had scuffled most of the season season, entering Friday’s game with a .204 batting average, and then he went hitless in four at-bats with three strikeouts Friday.

Days ago, Cashman said Austin was striking out too much at Triple-A. Austin’s strikeouts still may be a concern. He whiffed 34 times in 112 at-bats in the minors, where, it goes without saying, the pitching isn’t nearly as good as the majors.

More versatile than expected? Austin played right field Friday. That’s significant. This week, Girardi said the Yankees no longer see him as an outfield option. He’s played right field four times in the minors this season. But he was a full-time outfielder from 2012 to 2015. The Yankees might end up needing Austin to play a corner outfield spot in a pinch.

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A re-emerging talent: Before the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Austin the game’s No. 77 overall prospect. MLB.com had him at No. 75. Then injuries and ineffectiveness set him back in the Yankees’ minor league depth chart until he hit his way back. In 2016, Austin crushed at Double-A and Triple-A, earning his first big-league promotion in August.

Brendan Kuty may be reached at bkuty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.

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