Yankees could promote promising slugging catcher

austin wells, yankees

The New York Yankees are gearing up to capitalize on their prospects in the closing weeks of a less-than-stellar 2023 season. Now is the time to garner value, gather insights, and strategize for a future amidst numerous challenges.

The Yankees’ Catcher Conundrum

A significant query for the Yankees centers around their catcher position. Despite trade deadline rumors of an upgrade, the team possesses several emerging players eager to prove their worth in the major leagues, setting the stage for potential future contributions.

In recent news, two notable absences from the Yankees’ Triple-A roster on Thursday were outfielder Everson Pereira and left-handed catcher Austin Wells. Pereira’s promotion has been a topic of discussion, while Wells has freshly transitioned from Double-A Somerset to Triple-A.

Currently, Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt hold the fort as the main catchers. Higashioka, with his commendable offensive skills, sports a .230 average, .267 OBP, seven homers, 30 RBIs, and a 74 wRC+.

Conversely, Rortvedt’s stats paint a contrasting picture: .118 average, .250 OBP, a single home run, two RBIs, and a 41 wRC+. Rortvedt might excel defensively, but Higashioka’s longstanding association with the Yankees at age 33 gives him an edge.

Austin Wells: The Next Big Thing?

Considering the fluctuations in performance, introducing a budding talent like Wells seems apt. The 24-year-old catcher has a .253 average, .344 OBP, .386 slugging percentage, a home run, and eight RBIs in 22 Triple-A games. His 24% strikeout rate, coupled with a 10.4% walk rate, especially with his lefty batting stance, is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium.

However, there’s a catch. Wells has previously faced criticism for his defensive abilities, particularly in his role as a catcher. The Yankees might explore positioning him in the corner outfield, but this move, without substantial minor-league training, could be a gamble. A more plausible outcome? Rortvedt could return to Triple-A, making room for Wells.

Luis Severino, the starting pitcher, vouched for Wells during a rehab assignment some months ago, highlighting his evident potential. Wells’ offensive flair, combined with defensive improvements, might just be the perfect blend for the Yankees’ upcoming seasons.

The Road Ahead

With the Wild Card becoming an elusive dream, the Yankees’ attention must pivot to 2024 and the years following. It’s imperative to assess whether their seasoned prospects can truly shine in the MLB. Pereira stands out as a top contender, but the 24-year-old Wells, currently plateauing in the minors, also deserves a thorough evaluation in the major leagues.

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