Thirsty Austin Wells turns Yankees’ secret weapon in a dual role

Sara Molnick
Monday September 4, 2023

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Yankees rookie Austin Wells made his major league debut with a reputation as a catcher who prioritizes hitting. So far, he has lived up to that reputation. The newbie catcher has impressed both at the plate and behind it.

“So far, so good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said about Austin Wells. “I think one thing he has, he’s got a presence to him, he’s got a thirst for it. I think he takes a lot of pride in not only preparing as a hitter but preparing as a catcher. He seems to have that passion, that baseball thing you need to have as a catcher.”

The Yankees haven’t shied away from this reality. And in his own fashion, the 24-year-old catching prospect, who was called up to the big leagues along with Jasson Dominguez on Friday, hasn’t either. So far — and even Aaron Boone was swift to acknowledge that it’s only been two games — Austin Wells has performed well as a catcher. He found himself in the lineup for a third consecutive game on Sunday.

Austin Wells is thriving for the Yankees

Before the series finale against the Astros, Aaron Boone expressed his satisfaction with Austin Wells’ performance so far. He noted that the rookie catcher possesses a strong presence, a genuine enthusiasm for the game, and a commitment to both hitting and catching preparations, which are crucial qualities for a catcher.

The Yankees manager mentioned that despite Austin Wells experiencing a shortened first big-league spring training due to a rib fracture, he was able to begin forming connections with certain veteran pitchers. This aspect is crucial for any new catcher, especially a rookie.


In his big-league debut on Friday, Austin Wells had the opportunity to catch one of these veteran pitchers, Carlos Rodon, and his performance garnered favorable feedback.

Carlos Rodon praised Austin Wells’ performance behind the plate after earning a win in Friday’s 6-2 victory. He noted that they were on the same page and had good chemistry, with the catcher appearing composed and focused without showing signs of nervousness.

Austin Wells has accumulated a 2-for-10 record at the plate with two runs batted in during his initial three major-league games. In the Yankees’ 6-1 victory against the Astros on Sunday night, he contributed with an RBI double and also crossed the plate for a run.

A Yankees dream for Austin Wells

The rookie catcher, who made his debut on Friday night, continued his stint as the starting catcher for the third consecutive night. In this game, Austin Wells went 1-for-3 at the plate, drew a walk, and delivered an RBI double in the ninth inning.

As a first-round draft pick in 2020, Austin Wells effectively addressed concerns about his throwing abilities that had been raised during his time in the Yankees’ minor league system. He faced his first real test in the fifth inning of his third game when he made an impeccable throw to catch the speedy Astros second baseman, Mauricio Dubon, attempting to steal a base.


Manager Aaron Boone commended Austin Wells for his strong presence and passion for preparation. Boone highlighted the catcher’s’ enthusiasm for the game and his ability to handle the pitching staff effectively while also praising his excellent throw.

Starting pitcher Michael King expressed similar admiration for Austin Wells, who was catching him for the first time in a real game, aside from the possibility of encountering each other during live batting practice in spring training. The right-handed pitcher credited Wells for formulating an effective game plan on a night when Austin Wells also demonstrated his defensive skills by throwing out the first baserunner who attempted to steal a base in the fifth inning.

At the plate, Austin Wells had a 2-for-10 performance, contributing two RBIs and drawing a walk in his three games.

Although the Yankees find themselves trailing the Astros by eight-and-a-half games for the third AL Wild Card spot with just eight series remaining in the season, their focus is on the future, and young talents like Wells are currently making an impact.

Austin Wells emphasized the team’s ability to manage the small details effectively. He mentioned about their success in securing first-pitch strikes on defense and their discipline in laying off challenging pitches from the opposing pitchers, especially considering the strength of the Astros’ staff and lineup. He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s collective effort in achieving three consecutive wins.

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