Only pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training thus far, but the New York Yankees are already underway with their progress toward the start of the 2021 season. With some luck, the upcoming campaign won’t be significantly influenced by COVID-19, and after a 2020 season where the league implement new protocols and establish some ground rules, things should be smooth sailing from here on out.
Last season didn’t go as planned for the Yankees, who had World Series aspirations but fell short. The injection of youth and injuries that plastered the roster created problems, but this upcoming season has a bit more optimism around it. The Yankees upgraded their starting pitching rotation and added a few more players to help boost their chances.
One new face is impressing for the Yankees early on:
The start of spring training has gone well, and one young player has impressed early on. This past summer, the Yankees selected catcher Austin Wells out of the University of Arizona. Wells is an intriguing prospect that projects as a quality hitter at the MLB level but had some issues defensively behind the plate. Nonetheless, he is confident he can make a career catching, but it’s his bat that will likely take him to new heights.
“He can hit,” Boone said regarding Austin Wells.
“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.”
Offensively, Wells hit .357 with an OPS of 1.035 over two seasons with Arizona. Over 15 games, he posted two homers and 14 RBIs, which is nothing to write home about, indicating he is more of a contact hitter with some hidden power. As a lefty batter, he adds a bit of diversity to the Yankees prospect list, and at 21 years old, he has plenty of time to develop in the coming years.
“Talking with [assistant hitting coach] P.J. Pilittere the other day about some of the conversations he’s having are pretty advanced, as far as from a hitting standpoint,’’ Boone said. “He’s a guy who loves hitting and understands it a little bit.”