Yankees’ Austin Wells still trusts his process at the plate amidst early-season struggles

Before the 2024 season began, Austin Wells was looked at as a potential offensive answer at the catcher’s position.

After smashing 53 homers in three seasons in the minors, and hitting four at the end of last season with the big league club, what could a full season with the Yankees bring? Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated into much production at the plate.

Entering Wednesday’s game, Wells was slashing .086/.261/.086 across 14 games with zero extra-base hits and just six RBI. A far cry from hitting .300 with two homers and nine RBI in parts of 17 games in spring training.

Has the 24-year-old’s approach at the plate changed? Is it just major league pitching? Wells says there is no difference this season.

“I feel the same throughout, from game one until now,” Wells explained after Wednesday’s game. “Just have to trust in the process and taking good ABs, taking the walks. I know that my process is good. It’s just a matter of time before it starts to turn around.”

On Wednesday, Wells walked in his first at-bat before surprising the Oakland A’s fielders with a leadoff bunt single. The hit broke an 0-for-23 slide. The New Jersey native said he felt it was a good opportunity to bunt in that position to give his team a base runner, something that manager Aaron Boone loved to see.

“Great job leading off the inning with a bunt… you have that in your bag it’s valuable,” Boone said. “Good competitive at-bat with the lefty there in the end and worked a walk earlier. It was good to see.”

Wells finished 2-for-3 with a walk and after that performance raised his average to .132 and his OBP to .300.

On the broadcast, it was said that Wells was one of the “unluckier” batters in the majors this season. He has eight hard-hit balls (95 mph or faster) that have not gone for a hit. That stat, when told to Wells after the game, assured the young catcher that his process continues to be sound, but he did admit that seeing his low batting numbers early in the season is tough. He believes it’ll work itself out as the season goes on.

What makes it easier? Playing with Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto when they are all hitting -- like they did in Wednesday’s win.

“It’s fun to watch, that’s for sure,” Wells said. “Just having those guys at the top, wearing out the pitchers in the beginning and flipping it back to them, it’s a special lineup. And it’s a lot of fun.”

After playing two straight games, and a lefty on the mound for the Athletics in Thursday’s series finale, it’s unlikely Wells will be in the starting lineup. But the Yanks hope Wednesday's game is a the start of a breakout for Wells.