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With chance to play QB, Aune prefers Yanks

Austin Aune moved into his Texas Christian University dorm on Sunday, ready to start summer classes and begin working out as quarterback for the Horned Frogs. Only a few hours after the Yankees selected him 89th overall in the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, Aune packed up, moved out and drove home.

The Argyle High School (Texas) outfielder decided he would sign with the Yankees.

"I've been playing baseball way longer than football," Aune said. "Football, I really started playing in eighth grade, and I turned out to be pretty good. I got an offer after my junior year from TCU. I got a dual-sport deal so I could play football and baseball, and it didn't get much better than that. At that time, I had no clue I was going to be drafted or anything. I accepted it, and it worked out [that] I got drafted."

The Yankees drafted the 6-foot-2 left-handed hitter as a center fielder with a second-round compensatory pick for not signing Sam Stafford last year, when the club took the Texas pitcher with the 88th overall pick.

Aune's only experience in center field came as a junior, when Argyle coach Ricky Griffin wanted to display the lifelong shortstop in the outfield, where Griffin knew he potentially projected at the next level.

"He glides out there," Griffin said. "He gets to balls that most people who play that position don't get to -- at least not around here. They just don't get to those balls. At practice, he would always go out there during BP to catch fly balls, and it was fun to watch him."

Griffin first saw Aune play as an eighth grader, and the ease with which he played the game immediately stood out before he became a four-year starter at Argyle. He features opposite-field power with a swing Griffin says wastes little movement.

"It's just pretty," Griffin said. "He just looks the part. He looks professional when he plays the game. It looks like the game comes easy to him, but he works his tail off. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around, but when you watch him, it doesn't look like it's hard for him."

Neither was football.

Aune was a dual-threat quarterback and three-year starter at Argyle, throwing for 3,411 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushing for 538 more yards and nine touchdowns as a senior before signing his National Letter of Intent to play football and baseball at TCU.

Aune led his team to the Texas Class 3A State Championship at Cowboys Stadium, where he played in a 21-14 loss despite suffering from food poisoning that kept him hospitalized for several days after the game.

"If anybody would have seen him, they would have doubted [Aune could play]," said coach Todd Rodgers. "But I knew he'd play, barring any medical decision keeping him from playing."

It is part of the competitive nature that Aune says is his best attribute.

"That helps me with defense, helps me with offense," Aune said. "I want to be the best player on the field."

Aune was just that for Argyle in both football and baseball, leading the ballclub to a 22-6 record before it lost in the regional quarterfinals. He hit .447 this season with eight home runs and 41 RBIs.

"And that was against all left-handed pitching," Griffin said. "They threw left-handers at us because he was in our lineup."

Aune still excelled, prompting a Tuesday-morning wakeup with a voicemail from Yankees special assignment scout Jim Hendry. The club met the dollar value Aune and his family decided upon entering the Draft, and it made for a quick decision.

After two days at TCU, the lifelong Texas Rangers fan headed home a Yankee.

"I always knew there was a chance, because there were scouts at my high school games and I saw [the Yankees] there, but to be drafted in the second round was far beyond expectations," Aune said. "With the history of the club and [that] they want me to be a part of it, it's a real honor."

New York Yankees