Yankees’ Gerrit Cole gives rookie catcher a huge vote of confidence

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Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

In a perfect world, New York Yankees rookie catcher Austin Wells would continue developing his defense and provide average to above-average offensive production in 2024. This would likely unseat Jose Treviño as the primary catcher, but he’s still expected to be Gerrit Cole’s personal preference.

Cole has very specific needs regarding defense and framing, giving him a competitive advantage. Treviño has been known as one of the best defensive catchers in the game over the past few years, but Wells earned a glowing review from Cole this week, suggesting that a change in the cards may not be far-fetched.

Cole’s Endorsement and Wells’ Development

“He’s obviously really intelligent, and physically, he looks solid. He’s a good catcher. I would say [Wells’ game-calling] is a little advanced, for sure.”

Cole is coming off an AL Cy Young award-winning season at 32 years old. He tossed 209 innings, hosting a 2.63 ERA and 3.16 FIP, including an 80.4% left-on-base rate and 39.6% ground ball rate. Despite the Yankees having a down season, Cole had one of his best as a professional and continues to exude confidence as the team’s primary ace.

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The Yankees See Wells’ Upside

With Treviño rehabbing from a calf injury, Wells has been the primary benefactor, spending some time with Cole and the other pitchers on the roster. This has given him plenty of experience and time to work, which could potentially give him a leg up in the future if his offensive game continues to improve.

The 24-year-old showed solid upside at the MLB level in 2023, hitting .229/.257/.486, including four homers and 13 RBIs. His numbers over the final two weeks of the season were stellar, and he ended up hitting just about league average, which is solid for the catcher position.

This upcoming year will hopefully define a bright future for Wells, who has already emerged as a young leader on the team and is building good chemistry with the pitching staff.

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