Austin Wells continues his path to the majors and is certainly not letting the doubters and naysayers change his ambitions. The Yankees know they have a big talent on their hands, and the chances of him coming up this year seem more likely than ever.
Despite some questioning his defensive abilities, though never the offensive upside, Wells has seemingly taken them to heart and looks to prove everyone wrong.
Wells flew up the Yankees’ prospect lists over the past two seasons, and this year he looks to be featured in their T5 organizational prospect rankings for a wide number of publications. He’s been upfront and open about his goals and what he wants his future to look like.
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Wells has some lofty goals, but certainly ones within reach
In a recent piece by Chris Kirschner for The Athletic, Wells was outspoken about the doubt around him being a full-time big-league catcher.
“There’s always been that doubt and there’s still that doubt. I feel like continuing to prove that I can play the position at a higher level is the goal, and not necessarily because of what other people say but because I want to be the catcher of the New York Yankees. I want to be an All-Star catcher. I want to be known for not just being able to hit. I want to do both, and I want to do both extremely well. The more that people say I can’t, it definitely fires me up to work harder and be in a better spot each day.”Austin Wells
Assuming Wells’s defensive improvement that we saw last year does end up sticking, he will likely see time behind the dish at some point this season. Wells has been highly touted because of his bat, but if the glove and arm come with it, he could be a regular in the MLB when his time comes. Last year alone, he flew up the minors and ended the year with AA Somerset. Now, it seems like he’ll be on AAA Scranton to start the year, likely with Ben Rortvedt as his competition at that level.
Across 55 games with Somerset, he clubbed 12 HR and stole seven bags — one of the best qualities of Wells’ is that he is very athletic for a catcher, think of JT Realmuto or Jason Kendall on the basepaths. He posted a wRC+ of 129, to go with a 11.7% BB Rate and an .839 OPS in his time with the Patriots. He certainly has the tools to be great, and he knows what heights he wants to reach. Confidence is key with a vast majority of prospects, as having the aspirations to be elite at the big leagues is certainly a shared goal.
Wells, in his interview with Kirschner, continued with his ambitions, stating:
“Being a catcher is a priority because I love the grind of the position,” Wells said. “Getting beat up and coming back the next day and going out there like nothing happened the night before — I love that and it drives me to play the game of baseball, because being back there is a different feeling.”Austin Wells cont.
His defense improved dramatically year-over-year, and as he progressed through the levels in the farm, he was able to fine-tune certain aspects of his game over time. Still just 23-years-old, Wells has plenty of time to keep rounding out his skillset, and with the automated strike zone becoming a more and more likely reality, perhaps he doesn’t need to be an excellent framer to get by. There may not be another Jose Trevino in baseball, and it truly is very difficult to reach the level of defensive excellence that he is at. However, if Wells keeps working hard, he should get his chance sooner than later.
The Yanks are currently running the same tandem they did last year, with Trevino and Higashioka getting set for duties behind the plate. However, there’s still plenty of time until the season gets going, and Wells could have a phenomenal spring, thus making the organization have to think about the catcher situation this season. This will also likely be Higgy’s last year with the organization, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees prioritize youth and wanting to test out what talent they have in the farm.