Yankees’ rookie catcher is catching fire despite team’s collapse

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Yankees, austin wells
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are in disarray, falling three games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. Despite holding a significant lead just several weeks ago, they have squandered an opportunity to pull away ahead of the All-Star break, losing four consecutive games, including a blown save by Clay Holmes on Friday night.

Rookie Spotlight: Austin Wells Heats Up

Despite most players trending in the wrong direction, rookie catcher Austin Wells is starting to catch fire, which is certainly a great sign for the rest of the campaign.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, austin wells
Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Over 54 games and 174 plate appearances, Wells is hitting just .221/.316/.362, including four homers, 15 RBIs, a 20.7% strikeout rate, and a 12.1% walk rate with a 97 wRC+. This indicates that he is around the league average with his offensive contributions, but Wells has been excellent over the last month.

Over his last 44 at-bats, Wells is hitting .295/.396/.545, including three homers, 10 RBIs, and a .942 OPS. In other words, he’s been one of their best offensive contributors and a bright spot among many dark days.

Defensive Improvements and Future Projections

However, Wells isn’t only an excellent young offensive catcher. He’s also taking massive steps forward regarding his defense. He currently hosts a 49.1% strike rate, which ranks 13th in the MLB, including four catcher framing runs, which is tied for sixth. This makes him a well above-average defensive piece, ranking in the 79th percentile in fielding run value and 90th percentile in framing.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, austin wells
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

At this rate, it seems the Yankees will likely transition away from Jose Treviño as the primary starter and toward Wells, despite the platoon they’ve been operating behind over the past few months. The long-term solution will ultimately be Wells and Agustin Ramirez, who recently destroyed Double-A before a recent promotion to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre. With Somerset, he hit .289 with a .372 OBP and 16 homers with 49 RBIs. He’s had a bit of a slower start acclimating in Scranton, but the long-term projection is that he will pair with Wells at the MLB level.

Veterans Needed: Yankees Call for Experienced Contributions

Nonetheless, the Yankees need more from their experienced players, and while Wells is proving to be a quality asset, the team can’t be leaning on their rookies and younger options to carry the weight of a struggling team.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: