The Athletic’s Keith Law did not mince words in a recent scouting notebook. He said Wells, the Bombers’ first-round pick in 2020, is not equipped to catch in the big leagues and the Yankees are wasting time keeping him behind the plate at Double-A Somerset.
Austin Wells, the Yanks’ first-rounder in 2020, can hit some, but he can not catch at all, and they’re going to have to make a decision on his position at some point in the near future. He has maybe a 30 arm, although it plays a little better than that because the Yankees have improved his release; and he struggles with receiving and blocking. He missed time earlier this year with a groin injury that stemmed from his inability to catch or block a foul tip. None of this is a surprise, as amateur scouts were nearly unanimous in agreeing he wasn’t going to remain a catcher in pro ball, but it does put more pressure on his bat. He’s hitting .248/.341/.423 so far in 38 games in Double A; at age 22, probably not where he needs to be if he’s a DH, although I saw a solid approach and plus power from him. He’s close enough to the majors that I think continuing to catch him is a mistake – just put him in left or at first and tell him to worry about hitting.
Law may be right. But at this point, it would certainly seem the Yankees plan on Wells being a catcher. Jose Trevino has had a great season, but no one expects him to be a regular All-Star or the long-term option. It’s hard to imagine the Yankees will have the flexibility to make a run at the Cubs’ Willson Contreras in free agency. And it’s not like they ever cared much about Gary Sanchez’s defense.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]