With the 28th overall draft pick in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees selected catcher Austin Wells out of the University of Arizona.
The University of Arizona baseball program hasn’t produced a first-round MLB draft pick since 2015. There’s a chance that changes in 2020 with Austin Wells, as he can play catcher, left field, and first base.
Aside from his fielding capability, he is a high-upside bat. As a sophomore at Arizona (in a CoVID-19 shortened season) in 2020, Wells slashed .375/.527/.589 in 74 plate appearances with a greater than 20% BB%. He also won Pac-12 Player of the Week immediately upon season’s opening.
Wells’ Freshman year wasn’t too shabby either, as he slashed .353/.462/.552 with 5 home runs and 60 RBI in 277 plate appearances. If the 2020 season weren’t cut short, we’d have to think his 2020 season would be as good if not better.
Wells’ biggest downside is that he isn’t the best behind the plate. So, while that may be highlighted as his main position, he may be better off as a first baseman or left fielder. As scouts have noted, he has his share of troubles when it comes to handling breaking balls behind the plate.
It’s also worth noting that Wells had a stint in the Cape Cod League (CCBL) between his Freshman and Sophomore campaigns. In his time with the CCBL he slashed .308/.389/.526 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI.
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Wells fits the Yankees well. A big player that can hit for power but remain disciplined enough to get on base at a consistent clip. His biggest hurdle towards becoming an all-around top player in the MLB would appear to be his defensive capabilities. He isn’t the best at his natural position so he will likely need to find a new home in order to become viable on an MLB Roster.
If he is drafted by the Yankees, however, he may have the liberty of working on his craft with Tanner Swanson who, as we know, made Mitch Garver an average defensive catcher from a pitifully below-average one. Time will tell who the Yankees select with their first-round pick. But, if Wells is still around late in the first round, he fits the Yankees’ bill well enough that I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see them take a chance on him.