The New York Yankees haven’t had consistent offensive production at catcher in years. After years of inconsistency at the position, it appears the Yankees have finally found their next great catcher and could soon be making a change of the guard.
The Yankees’ yearly struggles at the catcher spot
The Yankees haven’t had a real threat with the bat at the catcher position since Gary Sánchez had a 101 wRC+ and hit 23 home runs in 2021. Then, Sánchez was traded, and Kyle Higashioka and José Trevino competed for the gig in 2022.
The latter wound up being the starter and offered plenty defensively, winning a Platinum Glove and helping the Yankees pitching staff reach impressive levels. But Trevino had a .671 OPS last year and was even worse in 2023, with a .570 mark before getting injured. Higashioka is a good defender and game-caller, though not at the level of Trevino, and he doesn’t have much offensive ceiling besides the occasional home run.
Enter Austin Wells, a newcomer for the Bombers who is flashing tremendous potential in this lost 2023 season.
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Austin Wells is flashing elite potential
After playing 113 games in Double-A between 2022 and 2023 (in which he hit 23 round-trippers and was always above average), the Yankees promoted Wells to Triple-A this season.
In Scranton, Wells played 33 games and accumulated 146 plate appearances in which he slashed a cool .254/.349/.452 with five homers and a 100 wRC+. A league-average offense for a catcher is a fantastic outcome, but Wells has the potential to be more than that.
If Wells proves he can handle catching duties, the team is likely to make a change of the guard in 2024. He will have good coaches, both nominal and in the form of experienced teammates. But can Wells go from a below-average defensive catcher to average or better?
Wells still has areas of his game he needs to improve
The offensive production is still not there after a handful of games, as he is slashing .200/.250/.300 in three games. The sample size is tiny, though, and it’s better to judge it after the season is over. The Yankees are committed to playing Wells regularly until the year expires.
For the first time in a while, however, Yankees fans are excited about the potential of a young catcher. Even if Wells’ arm strength will never be above average, he has plenty to prove as a major leaguer. If he sticks at the position, the Bombers could finally get some consistent offensive production off their catcher.