Yankees’ rookie catcher already making a positive impact

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have started the 2024 season on a red-hot note, sitting 5–0 with another victory to open their second series of the year against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Securing a 5–2 victory, the Yankees leaned heavily on second-year shortstop Anthony Volpe to do the majority of the damage, picking up four hits and two runs in the win. Volpe is hitting .571/.667/1.000 to open the year, but his counterpart, Austin Wells, has also made a positive impact.

The Yankees Are Leaning on Wells to Step Up

Wells has now appeared in three of the first five games to open the season, recording three runs and an RBI, hitting .222/.385/.222, including a 23.1% walk rate. For the most part, Wells has been a league-average hitter, but that is well above average when it comes to the catcher position.

The Yankees seem to be heading in a direction that favors Wells on a daily basis over Jose Trevino since they prefer the offensive upside. Trevino will likely catch specific pitchers, but Wells did a tremendous job with Luis Gil on the mound Monday night.

Gil tossed 4.2 innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out six batters. In total, the Yankees’ pitching gave up only four hits, and Wells played a significant role in helping stifle Arizona’s offensive contributions.

Offensively, he tallied an RBI and made an impact in several ways. To open the year, Wells has a 44.5% strike rate, but his numbers in the corner of the zone have skyrocketed compared to last year. The sample is still small, but his blocks above average per game are at 0.03, up from -0.12 last season. His defense has taken a significant step forward, and the Yankees are ecstatic about his developmental progress behind the dish.

Wells has always been a competent hitter throughout the minor league system, but doing it at the MLB is a totally different challenge. He is showcasing his upside and will likely be the team’s starting catcher.

More opportunities and experience in the MLB will do him well. While Trevino will, unfortunately, be the odd man out in the situation, a combination of quality defense and offense is a rarity at the catcher position, and the Yankees have struck gold.

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