A little over a year has passed since the Yankees last added some players via the MLB Draft. Because of the special conditions and circumstances surrounding the pandemic, last year’s event was virtual and only lasted five rounds.
The Yankees forfeited their second and fifth-round picks after signing Gerrit Cole, and they had the second-smallest bonus pool last year. Still, they took three intriguing prospects: catcher Austin Wells, second baseman Trevor Hauver, and pitcher Beck Way.
Here is how they are doing now that they have a couple of months of pro experience with the Low-A Tampa Tarpons:
Round 1: Austin Wells
Position: Catcher (drafted 28th overall)
School: University of Arizona
In 46 games and 218 plate appearances, Wells has a .266/.390/.463 triple slash with six home runs and seven stolen bases, with an elite 15.6 percent walk rate. While he does strike out some, it’s not a big problem (20.6 percent), at least in Low-A. Wells has an ideal batted-ball profile, with 0.82 grounders for every fly ball, a 21.2 percent line drive rate, a 35.6 percent groundball rate, and a 43.2 percent fly ball rate.
Overall, Wells has posted a 133 wRC+, demonstrating that he’s been a comfortably above-average hitter in his first professional season in the Yankees’ system. He will turn 22 in a few days, so while he needs to keep proving himself and advance quickly, he is on the right track.
The biggest concern in Wells’ game is the same one that was present at the time he was drafted: Some scouts think he might not stick at catcher in the long-term. The early returns on defense are not especially promising, but if Wells keeps developing his power while drawing walks at an elite rate, his offensive profile should have no problem fitting in at any position.
The Yankees' 2020 first-round MLB Draft pick Austin Wells with his first Spring Training hit of his career. pic.twitter.com/7dJnZdMEEg— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 1, 2021
Round 3: Trevor Hauver
Position: Second base (drafted 99th overall)
School: Arizona State University
Hauver is also a little on the old side for a Low-A hitter at age-22, but it’s safe to say that he has passed the test so far in his first pro season. In 48 games and 220 plate appearances, he has showcased a keen eye at the plate, with a 22.3 percent walk rate that more than makes up for his 25.5 percent strikeout rate.
Hauver has six homers, 36 RBI and 36 runs scored, with a .292/.450/.482 slash and a 159 wRC+. An elevated .398 BABIP has likely kept his average up and he has cooled off since a scalding-hot .316/.491/.633 start in May that earned him league Player of the Month honors, but it has been an impressive campaign nonetheless.
Both Wells and Hauver could be challenged with a promotion to High-A. The latter’s left-handed bat has really impressed this season, even if he has been somewhat streaky.
Congrats to Trevor Hauver who was named Southeast League Player of the Week (for the week of May 4th-9th) During that week, Hauver batted .556 (10-for-18) w/ 2B, 6HR, 13RBI, 7BB and 9R in five games. pic.twitter.com/unLLP06PBH— Tampa Tarpons (@TampaTarpons) May 14, 2021
Round 4: Beck Way
Position: Pitcher (drafted 129th overall)
School: Northwest Florida State College
Way has been used as a starter, but is averaging a little under three innings per start. He has taken the ball from the go six times and entered as a reliever in another one, and has a 3.86 ERA in 16.1 frames so far.
The right-hander will turn 22 soon, but hasn’t mastered Low-A yet. Way has struck out 7.71 hitters per nine innings but has permitted 6.06 walks per nine, as well. Other run prevention metrics, such as FIP (4.38) and xFIP (5.11) suggest that he hasn’t been as good as his ERA may tell.
Beck’s bread and butter is a mid-90s two-seam fastball that has helped him generate 2.78 grounders for every fly ball, and a 61 percent groundball percentage. He also throws a curveball, a changeup, and a slider, with lots of movement.
If Way harnesses his stuff, he could be a really interesting arm. For now, he will need to show more consistency.