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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 4/19/22

What to make of the early-season hitting problems; how Nestor Cortes dominates with an obviously overwhelming fastball; stories on Austin Wells, Anthony Volpe

MLB: APR 17 Yankees at Orioles Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NJ Advance Media | Randy Miller: The season is still extremely early, but fans have been frustrated to see some of last year’s hitting woes rearing their ugly head again. Manager Aaron Boone is unsurprisingly — and hopefully not incorrectly — saying that the hits will come considering the caliber of players the team has, but Miller points out that multiple players on offense have been on a decline for years now. Players like Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres don’t really get the benefit of the doubt anymore. While the Yankees remain upbeat, there are legitimate concerns about the hitters that have existed for a while.

NJ Advance Media | Randy Miller: One of the distinct pleasures of watching the Yankees last season and the first weeks of this one has been seeing Nestor Cortes break out into a strong, steady pitcher and a fan favorite. In a world of superstar arms that can throw 100-mph fastballs, Cortes has been lights-out to start 2022 despite throwing in the low-90s, at best. His pinpoint command, craftiness, and movement leads to his success, not only with his different leg kicks but also changing his arm angle. On a team with struggling superstars, it’s fun to see a guy who could have easily out of the league suddenly leading the pitching staff. Nasty Nestor’s starts are becoming must-see events.

Yankees Magazine | Jon Schwartz: The Yankees’ 2020 first-round draft pick, catcher Austin Wells, is now considered among the team’s best prospects. Wells’ former amateur coaches discuss the impressive tools he has, as well as the mental skills and intelligence that teams look for in future catchers. It’s also suggested that Wells’ final college season being cut short due to COVID may have let him fall until late in the first round for the Yankees to grab him. The Yankees have been looking a long time for a catcher who can marry both offense and defense — perhaps Wells will be the man, though he still has much to prove on the latter.

NJ Advance Media | Kevin Manahan: Speaking of top prospects, shortstop Anthony Volpe recently had a game that looked like it might be a breakout from his early season struggles with the Somerset Patriots. During Sunday’s game, he launched a grand slam, his first Double-A home run. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa not off to good start and no free agent shortstop signed to a long-term deal this offseason, Volpe could be in the mix with fellow top prospect Oswald Peraza (currently in Triple-A) to be the starter there next spring.

Lastly, in a move that has already been reported here, the Yankees brought back veteran Derek Dietrich on a minor league contract. He’ll head to Triple-A Scranton and serve as organizational infield depth.