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Austin Wells was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2018 and doesn’t regret turning them down to attend college.

New York Yankees first-round draft pick Austin Wells was first picked by the team back in the 2018 MLB Draft. After missing his senior year of high school with an elbow injury, he decided to attend college instead. Speaking to Michael Lev of Tuscon.com in February, he defended his decision to play at the University of Arizona first.

“Coming here was the best decision I ever made,” Wells said. “So I’m super thankful … not thankful that (my injury) happened, but I’m thankful that I was able to go through this process, because I feel so much more prepared to play baseball at the next level.”

His decision worked out as Wells was drafted by the Yankees once again. New York picked him with the No. 28 selection on Wednesday, the first day of the 2020 MLB Draft. A catcher in college, scouts project him as a first baseman, outfielder, or designated hitter at the professional level.

JB’s take

First things first, Austin Wells is a great pick for the Yankees. His lefty swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium and he has the raw power to be an impact player in the future. In terms of pro comparison, Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber’s name is being thrown around a bit.

And even though Wells’ college numbers are eye-popping and exciting, let’s take another look at his decision. He missed his last year of high school with an injury, was drafted anyway, and opted for college instead. This is a level of maturity displayed by very few people, let alone high school athletes.

Think about it. Austin Wells could have signed on with the Yankees fresh out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School despite his injury. With rehab and coaching, he would have been well on his way to a successful major league career.

Except, Wells decided to forgo the signing bonus and commit to his scholarship at Arizona instead. In doing so, he turned down the grind of riding the bus through the minors for relatively little money despite his signing bonus.

Now, Wells enters the majors with a healthy elbow and fresher perspective. He went to college, improved his game across the board, and now begins his professional career with a better understanding of what’s expected.

Simply put, if this is how he felt about not signing the first time, imagine how ready he feels now. Austin Wells is in a position to be a lineup staple for the New York Yankees, so here’s hoping he rises through the minors accordingly.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.