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Austin heating up at plate

After a relatively slow start to his fourth season in professional baseball, Tyler Austin has picked it up of late. Austin, a Heritage graduate and 2010 13th round draft pick of the New York Yankees, has seen his season numbers rise in the last month of play for the Double-A Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League.

After picking up just one hit in his first 12 at-bats of a series against Richmond in late May, Austin has been excellent in his last 17 games.

Since the final game of the Richmond series, in which Austin went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .348 (23-for-66) in his last 17 games with 13 RBIs. In all but three of the contests, Austin has picked up a hit and he’s got a trio of three-hit games during the stretch.

The recent hot streak has helped Austin, ranked as one of the Yankees’ top minor league prospects coming into the season, improve his season batting line.

Coming into the first game of a series at Akron on Tuesday night, Austin was hitting .268 (63-for-235) with 35 RBIs. Though his power numbers are down — he’s hit just five home runs with a .396 slugging percentage after hitting 17 home runs with a .559 slugging percentage at three minor league levels in 2012 — Austin is starting to get on base at a more steady clip (.361 on-base percentage and second on the team with 35 walks through Sunday).

Trenton, in third place in the Eastern Division, plays three games at Akron before returning home for a three-game, weekend series against division rival Portland.