FanGraphs' Austin Wells assessment suggests major newfound Yankees optimism

Not a bad farm system after all!
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

After months of Red Sox fans citing pre-2023 FanGraphs prospect rankings as hard-and-fast evidence that the Yankees farm system was bad, we have dreadful news.

FanGraphs just dropped their top 36 prospects for 2024, and their assessment now matches Baseball America's pretty plainly. While the analysts weren't blown away by an obvious overload of can't-miss prospects, they painted the Yankees' system as extremely deep, featuring 10 names with an FV of 45 or higher and an impressive 25 players at 40 or above. That means the Yankees possess 25 players that FanGraphs believes will be MLB "bench players" and have the talent to remain above water and out of the minors.

On the flip side, though, the only player they confidently rate as an "above-average regular" is top prospect Spencer Jones (55 FV), and FanGraphs remains the low man on Jasson Dominguez, who they rank third overall in the system.

Sandwiched between those players is another opportunity for optimism, however. Year-over-year, the staff seems to have become enamored with Austin Wells' swing, ranking him second in the system and viewing him far rosier than they did entering 2023.

Yankees prospect Austin Wells receives high praise in FanGraphs' new top 36 list

Now, as soon as the Red Sox list drops, we know we'll be inundated with gushing reviews of Marcelo Mayer and Roman Anthony (fine). But, for now, it feels good to bask in watching a bat-first lefty prospect find his lumber in realtime at the MLB level last September, changing experts' view of his ceiling in the process.

"Wells grew on me pretty substantially during my offseason review. He still has some warts, which I’ll talk about in a second, but his overall offensive ability should provide enough impact for him to break the profound University of Arizona hitter drought the game has experienced since Scott Kingery‘s swoon.

Wells’ swing is beautifully connected from the ground up. The blend of his barrel control and the natural lift in his swing gives him a potent contact and power combination, which will likely make him a valuable hitter even if he ends up being unable to catch. His peak exit velos weren’t incredible in 2023, but Wells was working back from a rib injury that may have sapped his explosiveness. In the past, I’ve been concerned about his inability to make contact with fastballs running up and away from him, but he wasn’t as helpless against them when you put on his late-2023 tape. Anyone with a swing as uphill as Wells’ is going to swing underneath a lot of fastballs in that location, but he snatches his fair share of them and is dangerous enough in this part of the zone to alleviate some of my past apprehension."


Wells grew on our untrained eyes fairly substantially, too, and while a good degree of that optimism comes from a longtime rooting interest, he objectively cracked a code at the MLB level by the end of September, finishing the season on a power streak. His defense, shockingly, looked ahead of his offense when he debuted, and though Dominguez's powerhouse debut stole some of his shine, by the end of the season, Wells was the one still raking.

Ideally, he's able to effectively platoon with 2022 All-Star Jose Trevino for all 162 games of 2024, with no further rib injuries sapping his shine.