As a Hudson Valley native, it’s difficult to recommend that anyone who’s having a fantastic time in the sleepy little hamlet should leave. Objectively, though, Yankees top prospect catcher Austin Wells is proving every day it’s time for a change — and a new challenge.
When Wells was selected in the first round out of Arizona during the hidden summer 2020 MLB Draft, the catching situation above him was vastly different. The Yankees were already stuck with a bat-first catcher in Gary Sánchez. What type of problem would it solve to eventually replace him with another, in a best-case scenario?
Over the two years that followed, Sánchez was jettisoned in favor of a two-man, defense-only platoon (though Jose Trevino’s bomb on Monday might’ve fooled you), and Wells responded not by falling out of favor, but by changing to fit the times.
As of mid-May 2022, Wells now hits too hard to be ignored, and has reportedly improved lagging aspects of his defense to fit the mold at the big-league level, rather than force an eventual position change.
As Yankees fans well know, the most valuable part of Sánchez’s portfolio was his ability to hit the ball so hard at a position typically known for light-hitting framers. Once his bat waned, the value dissipated.
Wells? So far, so good for both sides of his coin in 2022, and he’s laid waste to High-A to the point where he needs a change of scenery. In fact, he might even get promoted by the time you read this.
Yankees top prospect Austin Wells improving on offense and defense
And the best part? For an “advanced college bat,” Wells is still extremely young, and won’t turn 23 until mid-July. He hasn’t been mashing at High-A in the way where he’s “too old for his level,” like a college sophomore who keeps coming back to the high school blacktop to chug PBRs. He’s been appropriately placed so far, but has torn through Aberdeen, Brooklyn, and Lakewood to the point where he’s earned some movement.
Maybe there’s something in the water in Fishkill, where Anthony Volpe also cemented his breakout in 2021.
Not only is Wells putting bat on ball with authority and lapping everyone’s favorite Yankees defensive catcher Jose Trevino in framing metrics, but he’s walking, going oppo, and dominating lefty-on-lefty.
Add in the defensive highlights, back-picks and thick mustache, and you’ve got the profile of someone who understands how to grow into the complete package.
None of the Yankees’ minor-league sites, from HV to Somerset to Scranton, really mirror big-city expectations. At the very least, though, Wells deserves a chance to approach the spotlight at the next level.