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Austin Wells says he wants to hit home runs for the Yankees, expects to sign soon

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Wells talked to members of the media a day after becoming the Yankees’ first-round pick

USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

The Yankees selected University of Arizona catcher Austin Wells with their first-round pick in last night’s MLB Draft. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound backstop possesses a big bat from the left side of the plate, and he has a keen eye, too. Power and patience from the left side: that’s a profile that has served the Yankees well in the past.

Wells, 20, spoke to members of the media earlier this afternoon, where he indicated that Boras Corp. will represent him as he negotiates with the Yankees. Here are some of the highlights:

On signing with the Yankees

According to Bryan Hoch, Wells expects the signing process to move quickly. “Absolutely,” he said, “I’m ready to get going.” The Yankees have until August 1 to sign players this year, says JJ Cooper, which is longer than the month typically provided. That, of course, has to do with the coronavirus pandemic. Slot value for the 28th pick is $2,493,900. Expect Wells to get right around that number.

On staying behind the plate

Scouting reports laud Wells’ bat. Some consider him a one-dimensional slugger, who may have more power than contact ability, but the big bat isn’t in question. His defense, however, raises concern. Consider this blurb from Baseball America (subscription required):

He has trouble blocking and receiving pitches, especially knee to knee on the glove side, and there’s a record of elbow issues dating back to high school. An arm that once earned plus grades is now too frequently below-average. He focused heavily on improving his defensive reputation over the offseason but didn’t have much opportunity to showcase the results in a shortened 2020 season.

“I’m a catcher, and I want to be a catcher,” Wells told Hoch. He also indicated he’s open to moving positions if it gets him to the majors quickly. “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 growing up a Red Sox fan

Wells played for the University of Arizona, but he’s originally from Las Vegas. That’s not exactly Red Sox Nation, but he rooted for the bad guys. “I was a Red Sox fan growing up,” he told Justin Emerson, “and I think everyone’s mind changed when they heard the name called out last night. I’m a big Yankees fan now”

Lindsey Adler says that Wells became a Red Sox fan in 2004. Ouch.

Now that you got to know him a little bit better, what do you think of the Yankees’ first-round pick? Let us know in the comments section, and don’t forget to assign him a grade in our draft poll.