In today’s entry to the 2020 Major League Baseball Scouting Report series (you can check out all of the reports in the series right here.)we’re going to look at Arizona catcher Austin Wells. He’s currently rated as the #21 prospect in the draft by Baseball America, #44 prospect by Fangraphs, and #27 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

The 2019 Season

The New York Yankees selected Austin Wells out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas after the 2018 season with their 35th round selection. The catcher decided to pass on signing and headed off to Arizona where he started immediately.

Speaking of immediate – that was his impact. In 277 plate appearances he hit .353/.462/.552 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 5 home runs, and 46 walks with just 43 strikeouts. He also saw action all around the field, playing games at catcher, first base, left field, and right field.

When the college season was over, Austin Wells packed up his stuff and headed out to the Cape Cod League where he just kept on hitting. In 42 games played for Yarmouth-Dennis he hit .308/.389/.526 with 13 doubles and 7 home runs.

The 2020 Season

After a big freshman year, the now 20-year-old catcher got out to an even better start in 2020. He only got a chance to play in 15 games, but in that span he hit .375/.527/.589 with 6 doubles, 2 homers, 17 walks, and struck out 14 times.

Austin Wells College Stats

Austin Wells Video

Austin Wells Scouting Report

Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 200 lbs

Bats: Left | Throws: Right

Position(s): Catcher, First Base, Corner Outfield

With Austin Wells it all starts with the bat. He’s got an above-average hit tool and he’s got above-average to plus raw power. The draft eligible sophomore has performed well in the Pac 12 and crushed the ball out in the Cape Cod League – two leagues where good performances go a long way in the eyes of scouts. An advanced approach, he uses the entire field and the power plays now from foul pole to foul pole.

Defensively is where you run into a lot of different opinions. Some believe he can remain at catcher long term, though he’ll need to spend time working on it. Others don’t think he’s got enough there to remain at the spot and will need to move to first or the outfield. But even among that group there are some questions about just how much he can play those positions – though some are more confident that he can handle the outfield fine.

As a catcher he used to show much stronger pop times than he does today. He’s dealt with some arm injuries since high school and the arm now grades out below-average. His receiving, blocking, and throwing skills all need improving if he’s going to remain behind the plate.

Where the concern could be

Defense. There are some out there who think he doesn’t have much of a defensive home and he’s going to be a liability anywhere he winds up. If the defense doesn’t work out somewhere, it’s tough to find an every day spot to play him.

5 Responses

  1. Scrap Irony

    Catcher defense is likely to be relatively unimportant in the near future. If you draft a kid like Wells, it’s to have a plus bat behind the plate. (And to gamble on electronic strikes coming within the next three seasons.)

    • Sean D

      Catcher defense is never going to be unimportant! The importance of blocking is huge! Giving the pitcher confidence to throw the ball in the dirt is extremely important. Receiving may fade out but blocking is going to be important for a long time.

      • Scrap Irony

        Disagree pretty much completely.

        Catchers will not have to worry about framing– which is by far the most important part of their job currently.

        Blocking is similar to 1B scooping the ball. It’s important– occasionally. But it’s really just that. And almost anyone can do it.

        Pop times and strong, accurate arms are important too– if the running game ever becomes important again.

        The electronic strike zone could well revolutionize the catcher position.

      • MK

        Scrap Irony Clint Courtney is rolling over in his grave. Sean’s point on the pitcher having confidence that hi two strike curve is going to be blocked is legit. Throwing and footwork will become more important as pitchers are slowing down their mechanics to gain velocity. Framing might become less important but quite frankly that was easiest to teach anyway. If they take a catcher I would prefer Bailey.

  2. Tom

    This seems like one that could slide to the Dodgers to give them yet another Bellinger late round success.