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  • Cory Claus

Yankees Farm Report: Two Catching Prospects Are On Fire

The Yankees need to rebuild their team with prospects. But projecting which ones will rise and which will fall is far less than a science. So when a team has specific needs, they tend to overdraft for the position. The Yankees have been looking for the next Jorge Posada since the stalwart retired and have stocked their system with catchers. Now it looks like they might have their pick of two, as both Austin Wells and Agustin Ramirez are rising fast.

Yankees Stadium still waiting for a savior at catcher

The Yankees need to add offense to their club.

They’re likely to add an impact bat in the offseason, but as we saw at the trade deadline, they’re going to limit their spending. That means they need to find the answers in their minor-league system. Fortunately, they have two promising outfielders towards the top of their system in Everson Pereira and Jasson Dominguez.

Those two are as close to sure things as players can be without actually proving it in the majors. Pereiera’s the closest since he doing his damage at Triple-A Scranton. In his 27 games there, he’s hitting .324/.372/.559 with six home runs, six doubles, and a triple. If he were on the Yankees, he’d have the second-highest SLG and OPS (.931) on the team, behind Aaron Judge (.635/1.050).

Jasson is just a little behind him at Double-A Somerset. He got off to a slow start as he adjusted to the new level, but he’s been on a tear since the end of June. In the last month, he’s slashed .356/.414/.525 with a .939 OPS. And since the calendar turned to August, he’s upped his game. This month has seen him hit .436/.488/.615, along with a 1.104 OPS.

The man is raking. And it’s not just power numbers. Dominguez has become a hit machine, getting multiple hits in eight of his last thirteen games.

It’s hard to know when he’s going to be promoted, but it’s happening this season. The Yankees might decide to do as they did last year, which was to promote him for the playoffs. Alternatively, they might move him up as soon as they bring Periera to the Bronx, whenever that happens.

That takes care of the outfield.

The infield is already infused with young talent, primarily in the form of Anthony Volpe. He might not be having a great season, but he is fourth on the team in home runs with fourteen. Oswald Peraza is also struggling, but he’s likely to get a longer look next year. He hit 19 home runs last year at Scranton in only 99 games and added another 13 this season in only 54 games.

That’s promising power from the 23-year-old. He still has to show he can do it in the Bronx, but at the very least, he’s a defensive whizz at shortstop. There aren't any other top infield prospects ready to pop anytime soon, so the guess here is the Yankees will spend on a third baseman with a big bat.

That leaves the catching position.

From Good to Great

The Yankees have had okay to good catchers come up over the years, from Francisco Cervelli to Austine Romine to current career backup Kyle Higashioka. Of course, they thought they found their savior in former Baby Bomber Gary Sanchez, but he lollygagged his way out of town. He’s a journeyman these days and almost out of baseball.

That’s forced the Yankees to get their top catchers on the free-agent market. For the last two seasons, they’ve relied on Jose Trevino, the best defensive catcher in the game. But not the best offensive catcher. And this team needs offense.

Fortunately, they have at least two catching prospects that look likely to fill that void.

The closest to making his debut is Austin Wells at Scranton. He’s already swinging a big-league bat.

Wells hit twenty home runs and seventeen doubles last year in his 336 ABs, almost all at the age of 22. He did so while slashing .277/.385/.512 to post a .897 OPS.

His injury at the start of this season slowed him down a bit, but he has still put up a line of .241/.336/.427. More importantly, he’s also hit 12 home runs and a whopping 21 doubles this year. The numbers are enticing, especially when you consider he’s improving as he gets further away from his injury. In August, Wells is hitting .281/.410/.438 with an .848 OPS, all of it at Scranton.

Austin might get a tryout in Spring Training. But the Yankees are likely to keep him down on the farm for at least the first month or two of the season. After that, we’re going to get a chance to see what Mr. Wells can really do.

But the Yankees don’t have all their eggs in Austin’s basket. They have a rapid riser right behind him in Agustin Ramirez.

Yankees' Rapid Riser

Ramirez showed promise last year in the Florida Complex League, hitting .304/.386/.506. He also flashed enough power to earn an OPS of .892. Still, he was just in the FCL.

This year, he’s delivering on that promise. He’s moved all the way from Low-A Tampa to the Somerset Patriots while maintaining a very similar slash line (.294/.392/.503). This is a great sign since he’s done it against better competition.

His power numbers, however, have exploded. The man has hit sixteen home runs and seventeen doubles over his 310 ABs. What makes that so exciting is that he’s only 21, three years younger than Wells. Players don’t come into their power until they’re 24 or 25, making Agustin’s potential sky-high.

Right now, though, that’s all it is: potential.

If he and Wells both deliver on their promises, the Yankees could go from a dearth of power-hitting catchers to a surplus. And they could solve their problems at Catcher for years to come. That might be little comfort here in 2023, but no matter what happens this year, next season is coming.

And with it will come the hope of not one but two homegrown, power-mad catchers. That’s a future the Yankees and their fans can dream on.


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