As the calendar has turned to May, some of the New York Yankees‘ most prominent top prospects have finally gotten their feet wet after succumbing to advanced pitching in April.
It’s more difficult than ever to get a hit at the big-league level, considering every team has a stable of 12 disgusting relievers, and every starter has an arsenal that would’ve made Rogers Hornsby keel over and pee. It stands to reason, too, that there’s plenty of advanced stuff at every level of the minors.
The only difference? Some of these guys have no idea where it’s going, which only raises the level of difficulty.
The Yankees’ system, on the whole, had an odd start to the campaign. Many of the group’s most ballyhooed names, players who even casual fans had come to know, started somewhere between “slow” and “extremely slow.” In fact, it’s difficult to find a full season of data from any of the big guns that you can really hang your hat on as a success.
Somehow, though, New York’s prospects corps still checks in among the highest-performing overall units in the game, according to some evaluators, and continues to crank out high-quality depth below the surface (Chandler Champlain and TJ Rumfield say hello).
Finally, as we enter the summer and all eyes (well, some eyes) turn to the farm to see if familiar names like Anthony Volpe and Trey Sweeney can round back into form, these three top prospects are having the most encouraging months. Apologies to Volpe, who’s come around lately, but followed up a great first week with a tough second series. He’ll get there, though.
3 Yankees top prospects turning their seasons around in May
3. Austin Wells
Austin Wells will tell you he doesn’t belong on this list. After all, the 22-year-old was already performing quite well during the frigid Hudson Valley April, hitting .316 and slugging .491 in 57 small-sample-size at-bats.
Since the calendar has turned, though, Wells has gone supernova — both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Someone wants to spend the summer in beautiful Somerset!
Through May 11, Wells has punished the ball, slugging a remarkable .792 with three homers, two doubles, and five runs scored. He’s also coming off a three-walk game, which means the level might be getting a bit too small for him. Nobody wants a piece of the stache, apparently.
On the year, Wells has repeatedly shown why he was considered an elite college bat whose prospect pedigree was dinged only by his lack of defined position. His .434 OBP and 1.014 OPS on the season read like the profile of a much older player tackling High-A for the first time.
Wells, though, is only 22 years old, meaning he’s dominating the appropriate level of competition, but seems hungry for more.
His promotion is not a question of if, but rather when. Conveniently, the big-league Yankees have some long-term questions to answer about the future of the position Wells currently plays. Something about … how they’ve gone all-in on defense but can’t hit behind the dish anymore. Funny how that works. Perhaps if May bleeds into June into July the way it looks like it might, Wells will have a definitive answer by the end of the campaign.