Brad Ausmus, ex-Yankees prospect, named manager of the Tigers

Bob Levey

Brad Ausmus has been named the new manager of the Detroit Tigers after Jim Leyland stepped down following their elimination from the playoffs. Ausmus has worked for the Padres as special assistant to baseball operations since 2010 and was the manager for the Israeli baseball team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Now he takes over a team that Leyland has helped turn around over the last eight years. But before all that, he was a Yankee prospect.

Drafted in the now-eliminated 48th round of the 1987 MLB Draft, the catcher spent five years in the Yankees system. He didn't hit exceptionally well, starting his professional career in 1988, splitting time between rookie ball and the Short Season Oneonta Yankees. He returned to spend the entire 1989 season in Oneonta, where he OPS'd over .600 for the first time and hit his first professional home run.

In 1990, Ausmus moved up to A-ball with the Prince William Canons. He played in over 100 games for the first time and more than doubled his career extra bases. At the age of 22, he spent the 1991 season with the Canons where he hit over .300 for the first and only time. He had career high offensive numbers, hitting .304/.366/.417 with two home runs, three triples and 14 doubles. He earned a promotion to Double-A Albany-Colonie where he hit a solid, but less impressive .266/.345/.336. By the end of the season he had tripled his career home run total.

In 1992, he took a step backward, hitting .242/.317/.313 for Triple-A Columbus playing alongside Bernie Williams, after moving up from Double-A. He hit another two home runs, making an even 10 as a Yankee. His lack of progress at the age of 23 is probably what left him unprotected in the 1993 Expansion Draft to the Colorado Rockies. After the 1993 season he didn't spend time in the minors until 2010, the last year of his career. The Rockies traded him in July of 1993 and he spent time with the Padres, Tigers (twice), Astros (twice), and the Dodgers in an 18-year career that took him to the age of 41.

In his career he played alongside such Yankee greats as Pat Kelly, Russ Davis, Andy Fox, Sterling Hitchcock, Gerald Williams, and J.T. Snow.

The Yankees didn't really miss much. He had a career 75 OPS+, reaching just over average in 1995 and 1999. Meanwhile, Jorge Posada was hitting his way into our hearts. Ausmus did have three All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and a 35% caught stealing rate, better than Posada's 28%, but there's still no comparison. Ausmus accumulated 18.4 career WAR, while Posada had 44.9 career WAR. This is not one prospect you can fault the Yankees for giving up.

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