Welcome back to another edition of my column here at Fantasy Six Pack. This week I will be taking a look at Dynasty Baseball Prospect: Austin Wells.
Catcher is not exactly a deep position for fantasy baseball. In his biggest takeaways from 2022, Taylor Cochran noted it will be vital for fantasy managers to snag a top catcher next season. Only five catchers are being drafted in the top 100 picks at the moment for 2023.
Fortunately, there are plenty of promising prospects moving up the ranks. With Adley Rutschman graduating, players like Gabriel Moreno, Francisco Alvarez and Diego Cartaya are next in line among the most coveted backstops.
But one lesser-discussed prospect offers a promising blend of power and speed. We're talking about dynasty baseball prospect: Austin Wells. The New York Yankees catcher landed at No. 149 in Mike Schneider’s end of year prospect rankings. If he keeps up the same pace as he’s shown the past two seasons, he should climb much higher.
Under-the-Radar Dynasty Baseball Prospect: Austin Wells
2022 in Review
Wells collectively batted .277/.385/.512 with 20 HRs, 65 RBI and 16 SB through three levels in 2022. Fangraphs put him at No. 2 among all minor league catchers in wSB, leading to some comparisons to MLB catchers like Daulton Varsho. A catcher who can mash and chip in some steals is a valuable asset in every league. Look at these stats from 2022. Varsho and J.T. Realmuto finished far ahead of all other catchers in points leagues.
Among all minor league catchers who started the 2022 season at Single-A or higher, Wells ranked No. 8 overall in wRC+. He had a slow start after making the jump to Double-AA. It took him 13 games before he hit his first home run. After that point he hammered 12 homers in 43 games. The power is real. Baseball America lists Wells as the best power hitter out of all Yankees prospects for 2023.
Adding in his steals puts him in impressive company.
Prospects in 2022 with...
XBH% >40% | SB% >80% (Min 15 SB) | ISO >.230 | Age 23 or less
Elly De La Cruz
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) October 19, 2022
The strikeouts thankfully came down after he posted some gaudy numbers at High-A in 2021. Wells finished 2022 with a 22.4% K% and 13.9% BB%, and his lofty swing consistently puts the ball in the air. The left-hander would be fun to watch at Yankee Stadium, which has been one of the best ballparks for lefties.
There are concerns about his defense behind the plate, but all reports indicate Wells works hard to improve this part of his game. The Yankees have yet to play him anywhere else, though, so that's a promising sign for now.
The biggest obstacle in his way right now is Jose Trevino. The Yankees starter made the All-Star game and won a Gold Glove in 2022. He's sort of an inverse of Wells' profile. Trevino ranked No. 37 among all MLB catchers (min. 100 PA) in exit velocity and posted a -4.9 in offense in 2022, but his defense put him at the top of the position.
Age is another factor that probably hurts his ranking a bit. Wells will be 24 in July, so we will hopefully see him in Triple-AAA by then.
But it's clear his bat can make an impact for any dynasty baseball owner's lineup. It would be a smart move to acquire Wells this offseason at a cheaper price before he continues to move up prospect rankings.
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