The New York Yankees are one of the most demanding franchises in professional sports; for players, that is. To be a starter with the Bombers, there should be a level of excellence in one or multiple facets of the game.
Three prospects who could feature for the Yankees in 2024:
Ever since he was assigned to Single-A ball in 2022, center fielder Jasson Dominguez showed that it takes some time for him to adjust to a new level. That’s completely normal for most prospects.
However, that didn’t happen when he received the call-up to the bigs to play for the Yankees in September. In eight games and 33 plate appearances, the “Martian” slashed a cool .258/.303/.677 with four home runs and a 162 wRC+, proving he belongs in The Show. This came after hitting 15 home runs and stealing 40 bases between Double-A and Triple-A.
Unfortunately, he tore elbow ligaments, required surgery, and will be out for about nine-ten months. Make no mistake, though: whenever he completes his rehab, he will likely start for the 2024 Yankees. He isn’t expected back before the summer, but when he returns, he has the potential to be a key contributor.
Drew Thorpe doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, even though the Yankees were able to get some more velocity out of it, and he can now touch the mid-90s. That hasn’t stopped him from completely dominating the minor leagues this season, both in High-A and Double-A.
With the Hudson Valley Renegades, he posted a 2.81 ERA in 109 innings, and that earned him a promotion to Double-A Somerset. He was even better there, with a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 frames. Between the two levels, he had 38 walks and 182 strikeouts in 139.1 innings.
His impeccable control and command and excellent changeup give him a nice foundation. He also has poise and composure on the mound, and there is a chance he makes the Yankees out of camp next year and is part of their rotation.
When it comes to preparing for a game, studying his own pitchers, and communicating with his staff, Austin Wells is one of the best in the organization. His teammates and manager have praised him for those attributes.
Whether runners will respect his below-average arm is another story, but Wells worked on arm strength last offseason and is willing to do everything to improve. If he can be passable behind the plate, he will get chances to establish himself as a hitter.
This year, his MLB cameo with the Yankees yielded good results: he hit four home runs in 19 games with a 97 wRC+. That’s better than any Yankees catcher since the Gary Sanchez days.
With a full offseason to work on studying his staff, improving his arm strength, and his hitting skills, Wells has as good a chance as anyone to start for the Yankees in 2024.