Updated June 10, 2020 - 11:27 pm
Austin Wells is used to playing in programs steeped in tradition, having gone from Bishop Gorman to Arizona.
He’ll continue that trend in the professional ranks after being selected by the New York Yankees in the first round, 28th overall, of the Major League Baseball amateur draft Wednesday. This year’s draft was shortened from 40 to five rounds because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final four rounds are Thursday.
“I’m absolutely excited. I think it’s incredible,” said Bishop Gorman coach Gino DiMaria. “Gorman has a lot of history, then going through Arizona and off to the Yankees, I think he’ll fit in great there. His bat will get him to the major leagues quickly.”
Wells was picked by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2018 draft when he was coming out of high school but chose to go to college. In his 71 career games with the Wildcats, the 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound left-handed batter hit .357 with seven home runs, 74 RBIs and an OPS of 1.036.
He also had a strong showing in the Cape Cod League last summer using a wooden bat, hitting .308 with an OPS of .915 and was rated as a late first- or early second-round pick.
“I’m going to the Yankees, and it’s going to be great,” said Wells, who was celebrating with his family. “We’re going to win a lot of games.”
The question now for Wells is whether he’ll stay at catcher or play elsewhere. He also played first base and left field for Gorman and Arizona, which has allowed him to show his athleticism.
DiMaria said the fact that the Yankees picked Wells in 2018 and again this year shows his value, because a team drafting the same player twice “doesn’t happen quite a bit.”
“They really like him, and obviously they know what they’re doing,” DiMaria said. “They’re a program with a lot of history, and they’ve been winning these past few years. When they want something, they go get it. So for them to stay with him is huge.”
This is the third straight year in which a former high school baseball player from the valley was selected in the first round or with a competitive-balance pick after the first round. Former Gorman standout Cadyn Grenier was picked 37th by the Orioles in 2018 out of Oregon State, and the Phillies grabbed Desert Oasis and UNLV’s Bryson Stott 14th last year.
Wells is the first player from Arizona to be taken in the first round since 2015. He’s expected to be the only prospect from the Las Vegas Valley to be picked in the shortened draft.