The Dodgers once again have proved why their front office is the best in the business with yet another shrewd free agent signing. Back in 2021, the organization took a shot on the promising young infielder Austin Gauthier who was then an undrafted free agent but is now knocking on the door of the Dodgers Top 30 Prospects list. Coming out of Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) Austin Gauthier is slowly, but surely, creeping up on the borders of the Dodgers’ Top 30 prospect list with his high level of offensive play in 2022. His average of .298 puts him in the Top 10 amongst the Cal League batting average leaders, his OPS of .912 puts him in the Top 5 OPS leaders, and his OBP of .464 puts him as the league leader thanks to his league-leading 80 BBs. He’s also Top 10 in Triples (4) and first in Runs Scored (78). That type of play translates through all levels of the minor leagues, not just because they’re really good numbers, but because they show that across the board Austin Gauthier has the determination, passion, and consistency to jettison himself above the rabble and into the cream of the crop.
Not only do the numbers jump off the board, but once you physically see Gauthier at work in the batter’s box the picture becomes complete. Against Gauthier, every pitch is a pressure pitch thanks to his advanced control of the strike zone. When you factor in his 9 stolen bases and 78 runs scored to the equation it becomes clear that he is a top-of-the-class table setter. With Gauthier at the top of the order, the runs will come pouring in at a record pace, especially with the Dodgers’ consistently formidable MLB lineup. At a Major League level, you can experiment with creativity and hit him 9th if you already have a formidable 1-2 set in stone, further deepening a dangerous top of the order. Regardless of where Gauthier hits, he will improve any lineup wherever he goes.
Austin Gauthier #13
Hofstra University (Hampstead, NY)
R.F: Your numbers come off as a top draft pick level athlete, yet you were missed in the 2021 Draft out of college. Did you have any type of feelings about being missed in the draft?
Gauthier: I think anyone would feel a type of way not being picked. It’s always been a dream to play professional baseball and I’m grateful to have gotten the chance, it’s all you can really ask for. I was a bit upset after the draft ended, but I ended up getting a call from the Dodgers and couldn’t have been more excited for the opportunity.
R.F: You’ve made a lot of improvements since Rookie ball in 2021, what type of improvements have you made from that season?
Gauthier: The Dodgers have the best player development system in all of baseball, the coaches in here know what they’re talking about, they’ve played the game and coached for so long. It’s a lot of taking in the tools and tactics they’ve developed along their career and applying them to my game; seeing what I like, what works, and what doesn’t. It’s an experiment in finding what works best.
R.F: You hit no home runs across your 2021 season yet this year you’ve logged six on the year so far. What have you been doing to push that progression of power?
Gauthier: Honestly it comes down to not trying to do too much at the plate, just putting a good swing on the ball. I’m focusing on my legs more and barreling up the baseball, you can’t control what happens after you hit the ball, you can’t try too hard. I’m very grateful for the home runs, but I wouldn’t say I’m trying to push the ball out of the park.
16 Doubles 6 HRs
League Leading 78 Runs Scored
Physically speaking, Gauthier stands in the box with an approach all too similar to Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, and this isn’t by accident. Gauthier grew up idolizing Jeter, modeling himself after the star as a young developing ballplayer. Gauthiers numbers in the clutch look pretty similar to Jeter’s as well, with two outs and RISP Gauthier is raking the ball to the tune of .315/.464/.574 thanks to an approach that remains consistent regardless of game-time pressure. I personally can’t think of a better quality to have in a future Dodger than hitting ability in the clutch. It turns out if you want to be the best you should start by modeling yourself after the best.
Now a fully-fledged professional quick-hitting shortstop with a thoroughly progressive approach at the plate, Gauthier is putting himself on a strong path to the Majors. The young standout has found improvement month after month across his 2022 season, his first 48 at-bats in April seeing him hit .229 with 3 extra-base hits, yet by June he was driving the ball to a .308/.500/.550 slash line across 126 plate appearances. His bat continues to burn red hot as he continues to slug the ball with an overall OPS of .966 in his last 17 games.
League Leading 80 BBs
League Leading OBP (.464)
Top Ten BA: .296
R.F: So far it seems like you’re having success all across the board, but what do you feel is your biggest strength right now?
Gauthier: Staying in control of the strike zone, ensuring I’m swinging at strikes, and staying away from balls. I’m working on simplifying the game more, especially in this day and age where guys have their velocity up and are carrying great stuff. Working on sticking to the game plan and putting my swing on my pitch. You got top college arms, top prospect arms up here. You’re seeing them every week. They’re throwing a lot more strikes in Low A ball than they are in Arizona I’ll tell you that [laughs]
Austin Gauthier extended his hit streak to 11 games and has hits in 12 of his last 13 and leads the Quakes in On-Base percentage at .464. @austin2gauthier has been great offensively all year but is having an especially good month in July hitting .343 with an OPS of .966. #dodgers pic.twitter.com/RsHOEEOeFz
— Dodger Poke Report (@dodger_poke) July 25, 2022
R.F: Looking at your swing, it’s very reminiscent of former MLB player and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. Was this a conscious thing or did you naturally progress this way?
Gauthier: I grew up watching Derek Jeter, he’s my favorite player of all time. Putting my name in the same sentence is unreal, I respect that guy so much just hearing my name in the same sentence is amazing. I just love how he played the game. His opposite-field approach and how he controlled the strike zone by taking any pitch the other way were really special to me. Honestly growing up I worked on that as much as I could, I wanted to be just like him.
R.F: Looking forward, what do you feel you need to work on to make an impact and see that jump to Double-A?
Gauthier: Barreling up more balls, pulling them with more consistency. I need to do the same to right field as I do to left field [at the plate]. That would be a game changer for me, it’s something we’re continuing to work on, and it’s a process day in and day out. We’ll get there.
Austin Gauthier #13
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Aside from some developmental touch-ups and acclimation to the professional pace of play there isn’t much obstructing Gauthier’s path to the bigs, aside from the time that is. Given that he’s come out of college his development path will aim to put him on pace to be ready for Major League looks by end of 2023 at the earliest. His most likely development path is that of an offensively minded second baseman, though he has been featured as a shortstop in 62 games this year while appearing as a second baseman only 19 times so far. All in all, Gauthier is shaping up to be a major contributor to any lineup he may be featured on, whether that be on the Dodgers or on any other lineup. It shouldn’t be much longer before the organization lets him get his hacks in at the Double-A level, it’s likely we’ll see him open 2022 as a Double-A regular. The Dodgers’ well of prospects are as deep as it gets, and despite Gauthier’s absence on any Top Prospects list, he is one you’ll want to keep an eye on above many others.