Austin Riley

Position: 3B
Level: Triple-A
Affiliate: Gwinnett Stripers
League: Florida State League
Born: 04/02/1997 (Age: 26)
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220
B/T: Right / Right
Acquired: 1st Rd. (CBA, #41 overall), 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft (ATL)

Prospect Spotlight

A competitive balance round A pick (#41 overall) out of DeSoto Central HS (Southaven, MS) in 2015, Riley is a projectable third baseman with an above-average hit toll and plus power profile. Riley has solid mechanics at the dish who can be a dangerous hitter when he gets extended, generating good barrel exit with loft and leverage, and showing solid overall feel for the barrel.

He can be exposed when he tries to handle pitches in on his hands, particularly fastballs, which are where the majority of his swing-and miss comes from, and led to 147 strikeouts in his first full season of pro ball at Class A Rome last year (27%). The strikeout numbers are being offset by the power profile, and close to half of his 2016 hits went for extra bases (39 doubles, 2 triples, and 20 home runs among his 134 hits), while he slashed .271/.324./479 for the year. He has dropped the strikeout rate a bit this year to 23%, while the power continues to come, with 11 home runs for the Fire Frogs.

On defense, Riley is a stiff, upright fielder at third base, with fringe-average hands and fielding actions. While he has average athleticism, he does need to work on his agility and first-step quickness, which limits his range some, but it is playable for the position presently. He makes up for some of the defensive limitations with a plus arm, but given his big frame and the possibility of some additional bulk coming as he matures, a move across the diamond should be expected, or perhaps even a move to right field with the plus arm. The potential with the bat is enough for me to see a solid Role 50, average everyday major leaguer, with a ceiling of a Role 55 above-average player settling in at first base, with the gap being attributed to his ability to adapt to his ultimate defensive home down the road.