Yanks' Wells working on everything in AFL

October 21st, 2021

has a history of producing at the plate in Arizona. He was the Pacific-12 Conference freshman of the year in 2019 at the University of Arizona and earned second-team All-America honors during his truncated sophomore season.

The Yankees No. 6 prospect is back in the Grand Canyon State and continuing to rake, going 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles and a triple in his first four games with the Fall League's Surprise Saguaros.

The 28th overall choice in the 2020 Draft, Wells has a track record of doing damage outside of Arizona as well. The catcher was one of the better prep bats available in 2018, and New York also drafted him in the 35th round that June out of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas. In his pro debut this summer, he hit .264/.390/.476 with 16 homers and as many steals in 103 games between Low-A and High-A.

Wells is a complete package at the plate. He owns a quick but controlled left-handed stroke, recognizes pitches well, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field. He has plus raw power that he allows to come naturally rather than swinging for the fences.

"I work on every aspect of hitting," Wells said. "Being able to hit the ball the other way is what I really pride myself on. ... When I see infields kind of shifting me to the other side, it benefits me because I know I can hit the ball the other way strongly and it's not going to affect how I play my game."

While hitting seems to come naturally to Wells, his defense requires more polish after he committed 16 passed balls in 70 games and erased just 13 percent of basestealers in his debut. He has below-average arm strength and a history of elbow problems that began at Bishop Gorman, and his receiving lacks consistency. Scouts outside the organization see him as a Kyle Schwarber type who will wind up in left field or first base -- which could allow him to maximize his offensive contributions -- but he and the Yankees are committed to remain at catcher.

"It's very important," Wells said. "It's the position I want to play. It makes me the best player I can be on the field at all times. When I'm behind the plate, I feel like it even increases my hitting, increases my awareness of the game, helps me stay locked in. Being able to be a catcher for the Yankees is a very big goal of mine."

Yankees hitters in the Fall League

Elijah Dunham, OF (No. 24): One of the best prospects signed as a $20,000 nondrafted free agent in 2020, Dunham hit .263/.362/.463 with 13 homers and 28 steals in 93 games between Low-A and High-A. The Indiana product has a compact left-handed stroke, the bat speed and strength to hit for power, strike-zone awareness and average speed.

Andres Chaparro, 3B/1B: Signed for $215,000 out of Venezuela in 2015, Chaparro finally made his full-season debut and hit .267/.381/.468 with 15 homers in 101 games. His right-handed power is his most attractive tool and he also possesses solid arm strength.

Yankees pitchers in the Fall League

Blane Abeyta, RHP: Another nondrafted free agent from 2020, Abeyta logged a 5.37 ERA, .212 opponent average and 71 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and Low-A in his pro debut. He pitched collegiately at Modesto (Calif.) JC and Nevada-Reno and usually ranges from 90-94 mph with his fastball while getting strikeouts with a decent slider.

Clay Aguilar, LHP: Yet another nondrafted free agent from a year ago, Aguilar came out of Houston and relies on deception and command to enhance his 87-92 mph fastball and fringy secondary stuff. In his pro debut, he recorded a 1.90 ERA, .162 opponent average and 66/11 K/BB ratio in 52 innings between Low-A and High-A.

Harold Cortijo, RHP: Cortijo missed most of the season with a right biceps injury, working just 12 1/3 innings. A 14th-rounder as Maryland's top high school prospect in 2017, he sat at 88-90 mph with his fastball in 2021 -- down a couple of mph from the past -- while his fading changeup remains his best secondary offering.

Zach Greene, RHP: The Yankees made Greene an eighth-round choice in 2019 after he set a South Alabama record with 13 saves, and he has continued to succeed in pro ball with a low-90s fastball that features tremendous life and a slider that can be a solid pitch at times. He posted a 3.17 ERA, .185 opponent average and 91 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.

Tanner Myatt, RHP: Myatt has a fastball that reaches 98 mph with quality life and flashes an average slider but struggles to throw strikes. An 11th-round choice from Florence-Darlington (S.C.) Tech JC in 2018, he worked just 18 1/3 innings this year while dealing with a shoulder injury.