The 2020 MLB Draft featured a unique set of challenges. A shortened format and digital procedure forced all 30 big-league teams to make an assortment of adjustments for the first time.
For the Yankees – the only team in all of baseball to have just three selections – coming away with a solid draft class was even tougher. Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees’ Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting, assured the morning after the Draft's conclusion that his team did "the best [they] could."
New York came away with two talented position players – that can swing the bat and have invaluable defensive versatility – while adding a hard-throwing right-hander with plenty of potential.
With comments and analysis from Oppenheimer looking back on the Yankees' three selections, here's a breakdown of New York's small, but mighty 2020 Draft class.
C Austin Wells
Round 1, 28th overall
School: University of Arizona
Bats: L Throws: R
Height: 6'2" Weight: 220 Age: 20
As the first round played out, the Yankees were hopeful this familiar face would still be on the board at No. 28. New York picked Wells back in the 35th round in 2018 when the backstop was coming out of Bishop Gorman HS in his native Las Vegas. At the time, Wells honored his commitment to attend the University of Arizona, where he says he improved as a player and grew as a person off the field. Now, he's ready to get going with the Yankees.
"We were excited to get Wells," Oppenheimer said Friday morning. "The left-handed hitting power catcher who's a good athlete, has performed at an elite level, has really tremendous work ethic and makeup. It was a pretty happy time for us when we saw that he was getting down towards us [in the first round] that's for sure."
In his coronavirus-shortened sophomore season at Arizona this spring, Wells' prowess on offense was on full display. He hit .375/.527/.589 across 15 games with an OPS of 1.116. Factor in a tremendous performance in the Cape Cod League this past summer and Wells was the perfect fit for New York in the first round.
As for his defense, Wells has played catcher through college – and is eager to play the position in the professional ranks – but is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team and make the big leagues.
"I’m a catcher, I want to be a catcher," Wells told reporters on a conference call Thursday. "I know I’m definitely willing to do whatever it takes to get to the big leagues so if that’s at another position, then I’ll just hit home runs at Yankee Stadium and play wherever they need me to. Being a catcher is what I want to do but wherever my bat gets me to the big leagues the quickest for sure."
More of Inside The Pinstripes' coverage of Austin Wells:
- READ: Austin Wells is ready to hit home runs at Yankee Stadium, no matter where he's playing on the field
- READ: Yanks' first-rounder draws comparisons to Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper
2B Trevor Hauver
Round 3, 99th overall
School: Arizona State University
Bats: L Throws: R
Height: 6'0" Weight: 205 Age: 21
In the third round, New York added another left-handed bat from the Pac-12 Conference. Trevor Hauver, who played the majority of three seasons in the outfield at Arizona State, was listed as a second baseman when selected on Thursday.
Oppenheimer disclosed that while the Yankees hope to use him anywhere up the middle, the Arizona native played the infield in high school and is eager to return to the position. That way, similar to Wells, his bat can be utilized regardless of where he lines up on defense.
"The idea is that if he can play in the middle of the field, and we can get that to be something that's you know a doable thing then you add that his bat to the middle of the field can make him even that more valuable," Oppenheimer explained.
Through three seasons at Arizona State, Hauver had a .316 average (119-for-376) featuring 18 home runs, 91 runs and 77 RBI. Like Wells, however, Hauver was only beginning to hit his stride at the plate in 2020. The lefty slashed .339/.494/.695 through 17 games with an OPS of 1.189.
"We really like is bat, we like his power from the left side," said Oppenheimer. "He's got plate discipline, he's got the ability to hit the ball really hard, a lot of loud contact from him. We think that his bat is really going to play ... he's going to hit home runs."
RHP Beck Way
Round 4, 129th overall
School: Northwest Florida State JC
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 220 Age: 20
Right-hander Beck Way was New York's final pick on Thursday, a name that flew under the radar until his breakout performance in the Cape Cod League this past summer. With a fastball that can touch 98 mph, per Oppenheimer, this young arm has plenty of potential to build into a dynamic big-league hurler.
"He's got good command of [his fastball] to both sides of the plate, he's loose, easy, simple delivery to repeat," he said. "There's more in the tank with this guy when we get him in our strength and conditioning program."
Way gave scouts a glimpse at the type of dominance he can produce on the mound in the first few weeks of his sophomore season. In seven appearances this spring, the right-hander was 5-0 with a spectacular 0.67 ERA. Across 40 frames, he struck out 58 batters, allowed just 17 hits and surrendered only three earned runs.
Despite the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, since Way played in Florida, Oppenheimer and his scouting team were able to get sufficient looks at the prospect in game action. As was the case with all prospects, however, Oppenheimer wished they could've seen how Way held up for a full season.
It's worth noting, the right-hander is committed to transfer to LSU in 2021.
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