Yankees Sign First-Round Pick Austin Wells
First-round pick Austin Wells is officially a member of the New York Yankees.
Wells announced the deal with a post on social media Thursday night, donning pinstripes for the first time (and showing off a clean shave as he signed his new contract).
A product of the University of Arizona, the backstop agreed to a deal for $2.5 million, per Jack Curry of YES Network. The 28th overall selection – which the Yankees used to take the left-handed slugger off the board two weeks ago – has a slot value of $2,493,900 million.
Known for his bat, Wells was a force to be reckoned with at the plate this spring before the COVID-19 pandemic cut his sophomore season short. The Las Vegas native posted a .375 batting average and an OPS of 1.116 in 15 games.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound catcher hit .357/.476/.560 (99-for-277) with 85 runs, seven home runs and 74 RBI across 71 games over two seasons playing college ball.
Wells is a familiar face within the Yankees organization as the Bombers used a 35th round pick back in 2018 (1,057th overall) to take him out of Bishop Gorman HS. Two years later, he was a first round selection.
"We were excited to get Wells," Yankees' Vice President of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said in a conference call shortly after wrapping up the 2020 MLB Draft. "We think he can be an impactful guy, especially in our stadium. He's a mentally strong kid, so I think the weight of the pinstripes aren't gonna really affect him."
To round out the Yankees' three-man draft class, New York added second baseman Trevor Hauver of Arizona State and right-handed hurler Beck Way from Northwest Florida State. As of Wells' announcement, those two prospects have yet to sign with the club.
Although Wells is listed at catcher, questions surrounding his future at the position have popped up in various scouting reports. The 20-year-old is eager to pursue a career behind the plate, but is ready to play wherever his team needs him to be.
"I’m a catcher, I want to be a catcher," Wells explained. "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."
On a similar note, Wells drew a comparison to Chicago's Kyle Schwarber, another lefty with a powerful bat that was drafted as a catcher. Schwarber wound up moving to the outfield full time. Wells has experience at first base, in the outfield and could be used at designated hitter in the future as well.
Since this summer's shortened MLB Draft wrapped up two weeks ago, New York has agreed to deals with nine different prospects from all across the country. To check in on who the Bombers have added as undrafted free agents, take a look at Sports Illustrated Inside The Pinstripes' UDFA tracker.
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