Austin Wells ready to shine as Yankees extend MLB call-up

New York Yankees prospect Austin Wells

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NEW YORK — It is now official that the New York Yankees are going to enroll Austin Wells into their MLB roster. The Yankees catcher prospect is in contention for long and the recent pivot of the team to a youthful approach has signaled his speedy promotion.

According to major-league catching coach Tanner Swanson, Austin Wells exhibits a certain level of confidence and determination befitting for a big-league career. Swanson also pointed out that the catcher is driven to advance in his career and reach the major leagues as swiftly as possible.

Last week, the Yankees made an important change in their approach by promoting two of their top prospects, Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza. Even though the Yankees will aim to win each game, they are also focusing on the upcoming 2024 season. Manager Aaron Boone explained that they might offer chances to more young players to demonstrate their skills and potential for the team’s future success. This signals a new direction for the team’s strategy for the remainder of the season and opened the MLB road for Austin Wells.

According to Boone, the Yankees are considering giving prospects more opportunities to gain experience and exposure. The aim is to make more accurate assessments of their abilities and potential by exposing them to more challenging situations and competition. Since then, there were reports of the Yankees planning to call Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells in September. This was finally realized with confirmations on Wednesday.

Austin Wells is ready for the Yankees’ MLB cap

In a recent game, the 24-year-old had the chance to catch the team’s best pitcher, Gerrit Cole. Austin Wells also took his position crouching behind the plate to catch Clay Holmes’ powerful sinking pitch and skillfully positioned himself to frame Michael King’s impressive sliding pitch.

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Before games at Triple-A RailRiders, Austin Wells likes to spend time in the bullpen. Here, coaches use a special pitching machine that’s advanced and high-tech. This machine doesn’t only copy how fast the ball goes, the different kinds of pitches, and how pitchers throw, but it also shows pictures of the pitchers on a screen, like they’re actually throwing each pitch. This helps Austin Wells get ready to catch the real pitchers during the game. Along with practicing for the pitcher scheduled for the night, he also practices catching pitches from virtual versions of the pitchers he wants to catch in the major leagues.

It’s likely that Austin Wells will soon play alongside Pereira and Peraza, as the Yankees’ MLB roster expands from 26 to 28 players on September 1. During this expansion, teams will be allowed to include an extra position player and pitcher. With these additional roster spots available, the Yankees could easily have three catchers on their roster: Kyle Higashioka, Ben Rortvedt, and potentially Austin Wells. While considering promoting Pereira and Peraza, the Yankees’ decision-makers also seriously discussed the possibility of bringing up Austin Wells.

According to Boone, Austin Wells is definitely on the radar for a potential call-up.

The Yankees are hopeful that Austin Wells will turn out to be a true talent. They haven’t had a promising catching prospect like this since Gary Sanchez, who made a big impact in 2016 and was selected as an All-Star twice. However, Sanchez’s performance declined over time, both at the plate and in his defensive skills. The Yankees moved on from the Sanchez era when they traded him to the Twins in a trade that didn’t turn out well, acquiring Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Rortvedt, who didn’t live up to expectations. While Trevino is recognized as a strong defensive catcher, his batting performance has been below average throughout his career.

Wells on the Yankees’ radar for a while

Austin Wells of the New York Yankees

Yankees fans have been thinking about Austin Wells for a while now. The team selected him as the 28th overall pick and awarded him a $2.5 million signing bonus when he came from the University of Arizona in 2020.

As of Wednesday, Austin Wells, a left-handed hitter, had achieved a .240 batting average along with 17 home runs, 72 runs batted in (RBIs), and a .775 OPS. He played for Low-A Tampa, Double-A Somerset, and Triple-A. Unfortunately, he couldn’t participate in big-league spring training due to a cracked rib that was initially believed to be a bruise. After a short period at Low A, he managed a .237 batting average, 11 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a .770 OPS in 58 Double-A games. On the same day that Trevino was placed on the injured list, the Yankees moved Austin Wells to Triple-A, where he achieved a .260 batting average, four home runs, 18 RBIs, and a .831 OPS in 25 games.

However, Austin Wells’ ability to hit the ball has not been in doubt. The worry about him has revolved around whether he could effectively play as a catcher in the major leagues due to certain defensive shortcomings, like having an average arm. While in high school in Las Vegas, Austin Wells went through surgery on his throwing elbow and spent his senior year as a designated hitter (DH). Since then, he has maintained good health. Swanson mentioned that Austin Wells has increased his average throwing speed by around 5 mph since being drafted. He credited Wells’ progress to his work with minor-league catching coordinator Aaron Gershenfeld and defensive coach Aaron Bossi.

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According to Swanson, Austin Wells has shown improvement ever since he became a part of the Yankees farm. He has made significant advancements in terms of receiving the ball. His blocking skills have also improved significantly, and his arm strength has shown progress. When the catcher joined the Yankees, his arm strength was probably the biggest concern. However, he has consistently met the expectations and been fully dedicated to following the customized development plan.

Swanson mentioned that Austin Wells’ determination has been motivating him. He noted that while many players often express such sentiments, the catcher seems to carry a chip on his shoulder to demonstrate not only his desire to play as a catcher at the major league level but also his capability. Swanson further explained that Austin Wells’ performance has consistently indicated his potential in this regard.

Boone views Austin Wells as an individual with significant potential and he expects him to continue focusing on enhancing his performance behind the plate. The Yankees manager acknowledged that Wells has shown improvement in this aspect over the course of this year.

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