3 recent draft picks Yankees got right and 2 they will regret
By Adam Weinrib
The New York Yankees haven't been a draft-and-development machine for many years. Outside of Aaron Judge's monstrous leap, the Yankees haven't produced a regular MLB player since Brett Gardner. That's not a sarcastic reduction of their successes for comedic effect. That's a truth.
Ideally, shortstop Anthony Volpe (and fellow infielder) Oswald Peraza will help buck this trend with their forthcoming emergence. So far, so good for Volpe, who's shaken off some early-season doldrums to display many of the superstar traits the Yankees are banking on.
Considering his recent promotion, it feels fair to exclude the 2019 draft class from this evaluation. Volpe's made it, and the Yankees would very obviously pick him again if given the chance to do so at the bottom of the first round.
Beginning with 2020, though, things are still up in the air. The Yankees have cleared out these draft classes a bit by dealing names like Trevor Hauver, Cooper Bowman and Beck Way in trades for Joey Gallo, Andrew Benintendi and Frankie Montas. They're also relying on undrafted free agents Elijah Dunham and Aaron Palensky to make "2020" special, considering the draft was capped at five rounds.
While it's still "too early to judge," we're going to try regardless to assess the past three drafts. Even the "failed" draft picks still retain plenty of promise, but probably would've been more successful if New York had gone with the alternative.
3 recent draft picks the Yankees nailed, and two where they failed
Yankees Draft Pick They Got Right: Austin Wells, 2020 first round
Wells believes he's a catcher, and if so, that's dynamite. For what it's worth, the organization is giving off the public perception that they're dedicated to his success at the position, and that's exactly what they should be doing.
Regardless of where he fits, though, Wells remains a dangerous left-handed bat who's close to MLB ready, and will fill a dire need when he arrives in the Bronx. The Yankees haven't managed to get the whole "lefty" thing right for years, importing Joey Gallo (dark times) and Anthony Rizzo (good, but just one man) to help balance a lineup that was built with a crucial flaw. Wells returned a few weeks back from a freak broken rib and immediately started hitting, following up an .866 OPS in 2021 and an .897 mark across three levels in 2022 with home runs in three consecutive Double-A games to mark his 2023 arrival.
After 55 Double-A games last summer, Wells should be elevated to Triple-A Scranton mid-season and might get a crack at playing time down the stretch for the offensively challenged 2023 Bombers. Hard to call that a whiff pick.