An Introduction: The Yankees 2020 Draft Class of Wells, Hauver, and Way
With the cumulation of the 2020 MLB Draft late last night, we finalized what was a very small draft class for the New York Yankees, shortened down further from an already tight 5 round draft from the loss of a 2nd and 5th round pick after the signing of Gerrit Cole this offseason.
However, with the three picks the Yankees did hold in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th rounds they did collect some solid talent around the field. Without further ado, let’s get into some prospect profiles, video, and my thoughts about each!
With the 28th Pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, The New York Yankees Selected:
Austin Wells (Catcher, Arizona)
Background Information and Scouting Grades:
Age: 20 (07/12/1999)
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 220 lbs
MLB Pipeline Ranking: #27
“Wells was a solid prospect at Las Vegas high school power Bishop Gorman, but a combination of him only DH-ing all year along with his commitment to the University of Arizona took him out of contention to sign. The Yankees did take him in the 35th round in 2018 and he’s now back as a Draft-eligible sophomore coming off a solid freshman season and very strong Cape Cod League showing. There is no question that Wells’ bat plays. The left-handed hitter has power to all fields, with good timing and a simple setup at the plate. He has strength and bat speed and controls the bat head well to make loud contact. He does strike out a bit, but he also draws a lot of walks. There are more concerns about where he might play defensively. He’s adequate behind the plate, and while his arm stroke and release are fine, his throws are inconsistent. He is a decent enough athlete to play first or figure things out in left field. A team taking Wells with its first pick might want to send him out as a catcher until he proves he can’t play the position. His bat should play regardless of his eventual defensive position and he could end up following a Kyle Schwarber type path to the big leagues.”
Unfortunately, I was unable to produce a pre-draft list of players that I was expecting and/or hoping that the Yankees would have the ability to sign prior to Wednesday night, but in some various mock-ups and outlines for a post to make I always had Austin Wells high on that list of players. While it may seem odd that the Yankees are using a 1st round pick on another Catcher just two years after signing Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux in the 1st and 2nd round in 2018, interesting enough, he was also picked by the Yankees in that very same draft…just a little later, in the 35th round.
Wells was mocked to the Yankees by just about every major (and minor) publication I could get my hands on, both for good reason and because of this makes sense given drafting history. The Yankees have continuously picked catchers with shaky defense because of high value they could provide on the offensive side of the ball. On top of this, Wells’ left-handed hitting also serves well for the Yankees given the short porch in right field and in a farm system where he’ll be 1 of 5 true lefty-hitters; which is a list that also includes LHP T.J. Sikkema.
For me, personally, I’m totally whelmed by this pick. I had some other players in mind I was hoping that would fall to the Yankees like Bryce Jarvis (RHP, who went 18th by ARI) and other players I was high on that were available like Slade Cecconi (RHP, who went 33rd also by ARI), but it was a logical and sensical pick. With only three rounds to grab players, it made sense to go for prospects who have predictable outcomes, as Wells has with his bat. It’ll be interesting to see if Brian Cashman finally got his hands on a “Kyle Schwarber” with this pick in the future. (Side-note: It looks like I have a similar mindset to the Arizona Diamondbacks with players I like.)
With the 99th Overall Pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, The New York Yankees Selected…
Trevor Hauver (2B, Arizona State)
Background Information and Scouting Grades:
Age: 21 (11/20/1998)
Height: 6’ 0”
Weight: 205 lbs
MLB Pipeline Ranking: #130
“Arizona State was an easy stop on the early scouting trail in 2020. Not only could many teams’ scouts check in with parent clubs during Spring Training, but there were many Sun Devils worth checking out. At the top of that list, of course, is Spencer Torkelson, but after a slow start, Hauver was starting to show his bat deserved plenty of attention on its own. After scuffling a bit as a freshman, Hauver began to show what he’s capable of doing as a sophomore, hitting .339/.433/.574, largely as the Sun Devils’ leadoff hitter. A move to the three-hole behind Torkelson messed him up initially, but he was starting to heat up and show once again he can drive the ball and he can draw walks from the left side of the plate. He has the chance to hit for both average and power at the next level with a solid overall approach. His bat is going to have to play because it’s a bit unclear where he plays defensively. A shortstop in high school, Hauver played left field at ASU because there were better options on the dirt on the roster. He believes he can play the infield, and if that’s the case, second base would be the best bet given his limited range. Some see a Daniel Murphy type in the future, one who maybe plays second, left, even some first base, with his bat carrying him up the ladder.”
What’s very interesting is the difference in how teams and publications were looking at Trevor Hauver, especially vis-a-vis his position. In some mock drafts he was listed as an outfielder, a position also supported by MLB Pipeline, yet with others he was listed as a second baseman, a position supported by Baseball America. This could very well be the reason he had a wide margin of ranking from #130 to #201, but it appears as though Baseball America was more correct as he was announced as a second baseman when the Yankees took him 129th overall.
Most mocks that I read that went beyond the first round (which unfortunately is a small number) didn’t have Hauver come off the board until the early to mid-4th round, so the timing of the pick while a little early would have been the only time the Yankees could have taken him. The Yankees are definitely a team that approaches the draft with an up-the-middle mindset, always looking to grab talent in those positions: catcher, second base, shortstop, center field. It’ll be interesting to see where Hauver officially starts to play in the organization, but the versatility is definitely a plus as we saw last year with DJ LeMahieu.
For me, personally, I again was looking at some other players who were available at this pick, most notably Jake Eder (LHP, who went 103rd by MIA). Again, I think the Yankees with this pick were looking to draft a player with a good shot at reaching his projections given their small draft pool. Luckily, they probably had a good amount of data on him from looking at the #1 Overall pick and his former-teammate Spencer Torkelson which also probably helped Hauver’s stock rise as teams better know what to expect with his game.
With the 129th Overall Pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, The New York Yankees Selected…
Beck Way (RHP, Northwest Florida State)
Background Information and Scouting Grades:
Age: 20 (08/06/1999)
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 200 lbs
MLB Pipeline Ranking: #95
“A product of Mechanicsburg High School outside of Harrisburg, Pa., Way began his college career at Division II Belmont Abbey. After a season pitching in the bullpen there, Way transferred to Northwest Florida Junior College. He jumped on the map with a strong showing as a reliever in the Cape Cod League last summer and then jumped into the rotation this spring, raising his profile even more. Long and lean, Way uses a three-quarters delivery to bring three pitches which have the chance to be average or better. He’ll throw his fastball in the 91-95 mph range and can reach back for a tick or two more. His slider is very good when he stays on top of the low-80s breaking ball, but he can get under it at times. He doesn’t use his mid-80s changeup much, but he’s athletic enough to believe it will be an effective offering in the future. In the past, Way had struggled with his command, but in a starting role this spring, he was much more consistent in finding the strike zone. The team that takes him early enough to keep him from moving on to LSU will think the projectable right-hander has the chance to start long-term, knowing that the fastball-slider combination will work really well out of a bullpen.”
Beck Way was listed as the top JUCO (or Junior College) player in this years draft, according to Baseball America and given the timing of the pick seems to be a late-round sleeper, which is interesting given his high praises. As an emphasis to that, I could only find one mock draft- one which was run via Reddit, where he went 75th overall to MIA- that even included Way’s name within this years shortened 5 round draft.
I’ll be completely honest and say that he wasn’t on my radar when looking at who I would think would be available for the Yankees in the 3rd or 4th rounds, mostly because I was focused on other talent around him like #91 ranked Mason Erla (RHP, undrafted out of Michigan State), #109 ranked Bryce Elder (RHP, who went #156 to ATL), and #116 ranked Andrew Abbott (LHP, undrafted out of Virginia).
However, I am interested to see where and how the Yankees decide to use him if they can pry him away from an LSU commitment, which seems likely. His short-track record of success as a starter coming entirely from this shortened Spring season is intriguing, and while I’m not sold on him yet, given the high marks and the low-draft stock used to potentially acquire Way in the 4th round I cannot be too upset.
Some Other Quick Thoughts:
Here are a few other points I wanted to note about this years draft that didn’t fit into either of the three player profiles above:
There were 6 players previously drafted by the Yankees that were listed on the MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft prospects. 4 of them: Bryce Jarvis (RHP, #18, ARI), Austin Wells (C, #28, NYY), Tanner Burns (RHP, #36, CLE), and Alika Williams (SS, #37, TBR) went in the first or supplemental first round.
One other previous Yankee draftee on that list, Hayden Cantrelle, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 151st (5th round) pick. The final player, Andrew Abbott (LHP, Virginia) didn’t get drafted.
Players can still sign with an MLB team, at a max of a $20,000 signing bonus. I believe this will occur within the next few days. Last year the most a team could offer as a singing bonus to a player who was drafted (or not) in a spot without a specific value, and without penalty/affecting the bonus pool, was $100,000. This seems like an incredibly cheap move by owners to try and save a few bucks. However…
This move definitely favors the New York Yankees if players are considering taking this deal. They have the ability to use their reputation (as well as other big name teams: LAD, BOS, CHC, STL) in a big way here to try and coax players into taking that deal to try and purse their dreams. Maybe we’ll be seeing some more exciting and interesting names get added to the farm system soon enough!
The coverage on the MLB Network over the two nights was excellent. The analysts present had good talking points throughout the coverage of each and every player- apparently studying around 500 names who could be drafted in preparation for the event- and they had many different cuts to others with specific demonstrations (most specifically Al Leiter) about how players were able to boost their stocks going into the draft. While other drafts, notably the NFL and NBA Drafts may be more important in the short-term, I think the coverage for the MLB draft far outweighed both, which is a nice step in the right direction for baseball as a whole.