Will anything save the New York Yankees in 2023? Maybe a clean bill of health, but fans know that's not happening anytime soon. The next best thing is having your top young talent progress and develop into competent major leaguers.
The Bombers seemingly already have that with Anthony Volpe, and they're hoping for more of the same with Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera. But there was another top prospect the team wanted to see perform during spring training that they didn't get to watch.
Catcher Austin Wells suffered a fractured rib and was unable to participate with the team in Tampa, much to the dismay of the fans who were excited after his impressive stint with Double-A Somerset in 2022. Wells helped the Patriots to an Atlantic League championship after hitting .261 with an .839 OPS, 12 home runs, 43 RBI and 7 stolen bases, all the while chipping in competent defense behind the plate.
The allure, however, is the fact he has a heavy-swinging lefty bat, something this current Yankees lineup needs badly because Brian Cashman and Co. once again opted to not balance the lineup this past offseason.
Now that Wells is back in action, if he can find his stroke quickly and get some Triple-A reps, the Yankees could find themselves that lefty slugger the back half of the lineup so desperately needs.
Yankees top prospect Austin Wells has been activated from the injured list
Would anybody object to Wells providing relief as the backup catcher and logging DH reps if he earns the opportunity? Across 2022, Wells slugged 20 homers, drove in 65 runs, and stole 16 bases. He batted .277 with an .897 OPS across three levels. The year prior, he hit .264 with an .867 OPS, 16 homers, 76 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
The final test for the 23-year-old appears to be handling Triple-A, which could come quickly if he picks up where he left off at Somerset. Truth be told, the Yankees might need him to do so, considering this year's trade market is shaping up to either be weak or wildly overpriced (Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger?), particularly in regard to what the Yankees might require for an upgrade.
Injuries are destroying the Yankees right now and Wells was among the first to go down. Had he already had a full month at Double-A, there could've been an entirely different conversation going on at the moment.
The Yankees can't have what they want at the moment and we have no idea when that'll change, but Wells has the look, the profile and the skill (should he continue to develop) that this barren MLB roster needs. Whether he's an injection of youth or a necessary reinforcement once he's ready, the Yankees won't be complaining when he arrives.