The Yankees’ top catching prospect is coming to Somerset.
The organization announced Tuesday afternoon that Austin Wells, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2020 out of Arizona, had been promoted to the Patriots, for whom he is expected to make his Double-A debut on Wednesday night at TD Bank Ballpark.
Wells, who turns 23 on July 12, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Yankees’ No. 4 prospect. He is the top catcher among three who are included in the team’s top-30 prospects.
In 37 games combined for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley this season, Wells has compiled a .304 batting average, .425 on-base percentage and .568 slugging percentage with eight home runs, 22 RBI and nine stolen bases in nine attempts. He also features an exceptionally high walk rate with 27 walks in 155 plate appearances.
“Wells has lived up to his reputation as one of the top all-around college bats in the 2020 Draft,” MLB Pipeline wrote before the season. “He’s an advanced hitter who recognizes pitches and controls the strike zone while making hard contact to all fields from the left side of the plate. He consistently drives the ball in the air and should hit for average and power and draw plenty of walks.”
Wells’ promotion made sense after the Yankees moved Patriots catcher Josh Breaux up from Somerset to Triple-A Scranton last Saturday. Breaux had a team-high 13 home runs as the Yankees’ 25th-ranked prospect.
Wells’ defensive work with Somerset’s pitching staff could go a long way toward determining his future.
“Though Wells is willing to put in the work to improve behind the plate, few scouts outside of the organization believe he’ll be a long-term catcher,” MLB Pipeline wrote. “Elbow problems that started in high school have left him with a below-average arm and he lacks soft hands, which resulted in 98 steals (at an 87 percent success rate) and 16 passed balls in 70 games last season. He has fringy speed and moves well enough to be able to handle a shift to left field, which could enable him to maximize his offensive production at a far less demanding position.”