The New York Yankees have a strong roster across-the-board heading into 2023. However, there are questions regarding the catcher position, despite striking gold with Jose Treviño last year before the season began. General manager Brian Cashman acquire Treviño from the Texas Rangers, adding an elite defensive catcher to the mix.
The team knew that Treviño would add phenomenal framing and a gun behind home plate, but they didn’t anticipate his offensive quality, leading to a career-high 91 wRC+. He also recorded a career-high 11 home runs and 43 RBIs, finishing with a 17.6% strikeout rate and 4.2% walk rate.
Treviño’s Steamer projections have him hitting .246 with a 28.4% on-base rate, eight homers, and 36 RBIs with a 90 wRC+ next season. Most of his value comes from his defense, as stated above. In fact, he had the best strike rate in all of baseball at 53.8%, dominating the lower regions of the zone. He also posted 17 catcher framing runs, all but locking himself into the top job next season. However, the Yankees do have one exciting prospect climbing the ranks who could earn himself an opportunity as Trevino’s backup.
That player is evidently Austin Wells, who was drafted in the 35th round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft. However, he elected to attend the University of Arizona and was eventually selected in the first round of the 2020 Draft. This past season, he elevated from Low-A to AA Somerset, posting phenomenal numbers across the board. In 55 games with Somerset, Wells hit .261 with a 36% on-base rate, 12 homers at 43 RBIs.
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The Yankees should give Austin Wells a chance:
There’s an argument to make that Wells should be elevated to AAA Scranton to start the 2023 season, which would put him on the fast track to making his Major League debut. He’s capable of playing multiple positions, including catcher, left field, and first base. His athleticism stands out, collecting 16 stolen bases last season. There are concerns regarding his arm strength behind home plate and framing, which could eventually transition him away from the catcher, but for the time being, it seems of the Yankees want to give him a chance.
Randy Miller of NJ.com believes that Wells could make his MLB debut in 2023:
Wells, 23, is making a fast progression through the Yankees system, as he jumped to the Double-A Somerset Patriots midway through last season after starting out with the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades. Triple-A and maybe the big leagues could be in his cards in 2023.
At just 23 years old, there’s a lot to like about Wells, especially his lefty bat and fantastic power metrics. He logged a 129 wRC+, 45.2% pull-rate, and .839 OPS with Somerset.
Wells fits the mold to be called up late in the season so the Yankees can manipulate his service time. A similar strategy to how they utilized Oswald Peraza could make sense since he’s not exactly ready to feature at the MLB level just yet. Getting him a few reps down the stretch to mitigate fatigue at other positions might be exactly what the Yankees need toward the end of the 2023 season.