New York Yankees 2020 Draft Review

Austin Wells. Photo credit: University of Arizona Athletics Department

I believe the Yankees’ draft was very good considering how abbreviated it was and its unique set of challenges. With only a 5 round draft instead of 40 rounds and the Yankees losing their second- and fifth-round selections because they gave ace Gerrit Cole a 9-year, $324 million deal in the offseason, they only had three picks and made the most of them.

In my opinion giving up a few selections to get the ace the Yankees have needed for a very long time is very worth it on the big-league level. I’m very excited to also see who the Yankees sign as undrafted free agents. I believe the undrafted free agents will really make a difference with many teams. The Yankees themselves have drafted and developed many players such as Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, Phil Coke, Jeff Karstens, Mike Dunn, David Robertson, David Phelps, Shane Greene, Tyler Austin, John Brebbia, Caleb Smith and Nestor Cortes in Rounds 6 or later in recent years. Also, they got players such as Andy Pettitte in the 22nd round and Jorge Posada in the 24th, amazingly in the same 1990 draft. Fred McGriff signed with the New York Yankees after being selected in the 9th round of the 1981 amateur draft!

Late round draft picks are the lifeblood of baseball. The Yankees came away with two players that can really swing the bat and have defensive versatility and added a hard throwing right hander with plus potential this year. I’m personally excited to see Beck Way after watching him in the Cape Cod League last summer. His big fastball that hit 98 excited me, along with his good command. On that note let’s get to know the Yankees three draft picks from the 2020 draft class!

Austin Wells, C
Round 1, 28th overall
School: University of Arizona
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6’2” Weight: 220 Age: 20

For the second time in three years, the Yankees used their first pick in the MLB Draft to take a catcher.

Two years ago, the Yankees drafted Anthony Seigler in the first round (23rd pick) followed by taking Josh Breaux in the second round as well. This draft, Wells was the third catcher taken in the 1st round. As a junior at Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas, Wells was named the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year and a second team All-American by USA Today. He played in the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game after finishing the season with a .500 batting average with 8 home runs and 47 RBI. Wells batted .527 with 20 doubles, six triples and four home runs while scoring 46 runs and driving in 46 runs as a senior. He was then picked by the Yankees in 2018 after high school in the 35th round out of Bishop Gorman HS. He decided to head off to college and it paid off.

As a true freshman at Arizona, Wells batted .353 with 73 runs, 15 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 60 RBI and was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year. Following the end of the season Wells played for the Yarmouth–Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League and was named a league All-Star and awarded the Robert A. McNeese Outstanding Pro Prospect Award after hitting .308 with seven home runs and 26 RBI. Wells was named a second team preseason All-American by Baseball America and the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and to the third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He was also placed on the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award going into his sophomore season. Wells batted hit .375/.527/.589 with an OPS of 1.116 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 15 games before the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wells’ powerful left-handed swing and good athleticism is most likely what influenced the Yankees to take him. He has a tremendous work ethic and makeup. His approach is pull oriented but he is capable of using the whole field. He played catcher in college and has expressed a desire to stay there but will do whatever the Yankees want to help the team and make it to the big leagues. A move to first or corner outfield doesn’t seem out of the question. Wells did have a high school elbow injury that didn’t allow him to play catcher his entire senior season. He had a PRP injection and checked out ok after his senior season in high school and hasn’t had any issues with his elbow since.

Trevor Hauver, 2B
Round 3, 99th overall
School: Arizona State University
Bats: L, Throws: R
Height: 6’0” Weight: 205 Age: 21

Third round pick Hauver played left field while at Arizona State. The Yankees will play him at second base and maybe some third base, reason being he played second base and shortstop in high school and has told teams he would like to go back to the infield, so the Yankees are going to give him that opportunity. Hauver brings good pop from the left side of the plate with a lot of loud contact and great patience to draw a walk. He has the chance to hit for both average and a little power at the next level with a solid overall approach. Through his three seasons at Arizona State he hit .316 with 18 home runs, 91 runs and 77 RBI. He was just beginning to hit his stride at the plate in 2020 while slashing .339/.494/.695 with a 1.189 OPS though 17 games. He has somewhat limited range in the field so second is what he really seems destined for. Some scouts have compared him to Daniel Murphy, a player that can play multiple positions as his bat carries him up the ladder. He has a chance to carve out a career as a versatile super utility type.

Beck Way, RHP
Round 4, 129th overall
School: Northwest Florida State JC
Bats: R, Throws: R
Height: 6’4” Weight: 200 Age 20

Way is a potential steal in the fourth round, coming out of junior college. He transferred to Northwest Florida State Junior College after a year at Belmont Abbey as a freshman in 2019. He made huge strides in the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 18 batters in 13.2 innings. Using his three quarters delivery, his fastball has been clocked at 98, gaining a few ticks while in the Cape Cod League and usually runs between 91-95. He has good command of it to both sides of the plate with a loose easy, simple delivery to repeat. He owns a solid changeup that runs in the low 80s that he has a good feel for and will use it in any count. He also throws a mid 80s slider that could develop into an effective pitch but is currently a work in progress . He could put on some muscle and grow a little bigger as well. Before the coronavirus ended Beck’s 2020 season early, he was dominant for Northwest Florida State, going 5-0 with an 0.67 ERA, 58 strikeouts and nine walks, holding opponents to a .126 batting average over 40 innings in six outings, five as a starter. Now the hope is he will sign with the Yankees at the bonus slot for the 129th overall pick, instead of fulfilling his commitment to play next season at LSU as a transfer.

Overall I think the Yankees had a very solid draft adding 3 potential useful pieces. I will judge this overall draft on the undrafted free agent signings and if Gerrit Cole can help the Yankees reach the promised land of another World Series.

Paul Woodin is a huge sports fan who leads the New York Yankees minor league farm system coverage for the Prospects1500 team. Growing up playing and watching baseball while collecting baseball cards, Paul developed a love for the game. Born and raised in Connecticut between Yankees and Red Sox territory, Paul become a Yankees fan because of Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter. An avid sports card, memorabilia and autograph collector, he participates in redraft, dynasty and prospect-only fantasy baseball formats during each season. Feel free to reach out on Twitter

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