New York Yankees News/Rumors: Catcher Austin Wells, pitcher Luis Severino and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Austin Wells

The New York Yankees catching prospect Austin Wells has already gained the attention of the Yankees front office and manager Aaron Boone.  Of the Yankees system, Austin Wells has really performed well, and scouts have noticed. As Gary Sanchez, Kyle Higashioka, and the other experienced catchers in Yankees camp this spring get their work in; a new left-handed bat has stood out before appearing in a single professional game.

Catcher Austin Wells, the Yankees’ first-round pick last summer, has shown off some considerable power during batting practice. “He can hit,’’ Aaron Boone said Saturday after pitchers and catchers worked out at the team’s minor league complex. It’s not a surprise since Wells’ bat is what made the Yankees take him with the 28th-overall pick out of the University of Arizona two years after they selected him in the 35th round out of high school.

“I really like his swing,’’ Boone said. “One of the things that stands out to me, that I didn’t necessarily know, is how strong he is. He’s as strong as anyone in camp, especially when you test him.” The Yankees will be watching as spring training progresses. however it is very unlikely that Wells will may his debut this season.

Wells good hitting reports bodes well for the Yankees as home run hitter Gary Sanchez has had his contact hitting challenges in the last few years. Sanchez’s backup in Kyle Higashioka has been considerably better but he is also not the greatest hitter although his 2020 performance was the best of his career. The recent acquisition of Robinson Chirinos also doesn’t improve the hitting at backstop.

Luis Seveino progressing better than thought

Yankee Pitcher Luis Severino was expected back from his Tommy John surgery in late August, but now that seems concseverative. Severino had Tommy John surgery before the 2019 season February and a setback made it impossible for the pitching star to pitch at all in the remainder of 2019 and at all during the New York Yankees 2020 season.

Now that spring training is going into it second week or workouts Bryan Hoch MLB insider has reported that Luis Severino was tossing at 120 feet. And manager Aaron Boone knows that first hand as the manager actually caught the former Yankees star recently. Boone said he was as strong as anybody in the bullpen and would likely throw from the mound in the next week or two.

Domingo German was expected to take his spot in the rotation at least until after the All-Star break. The good news out of spring training is that Severino could now back in the rotation as early mid or late June, possibly even earlier. This is exceptional news for the Yankees as they try to control the inning thrown by all their starting pitchers in a year that will see 102 more games than any of them have thrown in 2020. The most innings thrown by any Yankees pitcher last season was Gerrit Cole’s 91 innings. Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon only threw one inning between the two.

Gio Urshela will be ready on opening day

It’s not secret that the New York Yankees have had severe injury problems during the last two seasons with multiple players on the IL on multiple occasions. Last season during spring training several players were not expected to be ready for the opening day. They included Luis Severino coming back from Tommy John surgery, James Paxton coming back from back surgery, Aaron Boone from a fractured rib and Gary Sanchez with back ailments. This year is a lot better at this point.

Luis Severino is not expected to come back to the team earlier than expected, Luke Vioits foot problem seems to be in the rear view mirror and Gio Urshela bone spur surgically removed will reportedly be ready for opening day. Urshela had bone spir problem late last season but thought it was under control. But after it flarled back up in Columbia in the offseason the surgery was delayed until December by the coronavirus.

Urshela is now at the spring training complex in Tampa Florida and reports are that he is doing well. Although that being the case the Yankees will take it easy with Urshela and may not play him in some of the first Yankee exhibition games, but he will be ready for opening day at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s doing well,” Boone said of Urshela. He’s getting real close. I think you guys saw him throwing across the diamond today. He’s been doing that about a week now. I think backed up a little bit so the throws got a little bit longer. He’s doing really well. Feel like he’s close. Whether we start him in the early games here in spring remains to be seen.”

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow him on Twitter @parleewilliam.