Evaluators' take on Yankees top prospect Austin Wells may have been drastically wrong
Hmmm ... very interesting. New York Yankees fans were told Austin Wells, the moment he was selected in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, would be unlikely to remain at the catcher position throughout his professional career. Most wrote off the fact he would ever even log reps behind the plate if he reached the major leagues.
The funny thing about that? Outside of DH, Wells has yet to play any other position besides catcher after two full seasons in the Yankees system. He's logged 135 games behind the plate and 27 at DH. He reached Double-A last year and impressed on both sides of the ball.
His defense has improved drastically from 2021 to 2022 as well. Between Single-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley during his first professional season, Wells allowed 16 passed balls and threw out only 13% of base stealers. A year later, in nearly the same amount of innings, he allowed just four passed balls and threw out 25% of base stealers. Still room for improvement in that latter category, but a 12% jump year over year is positive.
Everyone already knows about his advanced bat, but in case you needed a reminder, he's slashing .270/.388/.493 with 142 runs scored, 36 home runs and 141 RBI in 195 games.
But back to the defense. Remember when the most esteemed evaluators said he'd never stick at catcher (chief among them being Keith Law)? Well, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic spoke with Wells recently and the top prospect revealed a very telling piece of information.
Yankees top prospect Austin Wells will likely stay at catcher
After acknowledging all the doubt he's faced over his defensive capabilities, here's what Kirschner added:
"Wells said the Yankees have only discussed his future behind the plate. No conversations have taken place regarding a potential position change."- Chris Kirschner of The Athletic
Since Wells has been a relatively fast riser and just tore up Double-A Somerset for 55 games, don't you think a position change would've already been in the works now that he's knocking on the door of Triple-A?
The Yankees willingly transitioned him to a full-time role at catcher. In college at the University of Arizona, Wells split his games between catcher (53), first base (28) and the corner outfield spots (11). In the Cape Cod Summer league, he played 24 games in the outfield, 22 at catcher and two at first base.
A couple more things to consider: Baseball America wrote about Wells' defensive improvement and how it helped his rise in the Yankees' system, and the Yankees re-signed Tanner Swanson, the team’s major league quality control coach and catching coordinator who coached Wells in the minor leagues and has helped Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka become one of the best catching duos in MLB.
Yeah, we'll bet Wells remains at catcher, and we'll have all the receipts ready for when he makes his MLB debut.
RELATED STORY: Should Yankees try unorthodox left field situation?