Catching Prospect Austin Wynns Continues to Perform Well in 2017

By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens 

If you look deep within the Orioles’ farm system, you will find a backup catcher who may one day find himself behind the plate for a major league ball club. Austin Wynns was a 10th round draft pick for the Orioles in 2013 and has since, slowly but steadily, worked his way through the farm system. Currently, Wynns is a member of the Bowie Baysox, and has torched Eastern League pitching in his nine appearances thus far in the young 2017 season.

Prince George's Stadium - Home of the Baysox
Photo: Patrick Cavey

Wynns currently sits behind a long list of catchers within the Orioles’ system. Top prospect Chance Sisco is behind the plate full-time for the Norfolk Tides, while the starting catcher in Bowie is Audrey Perez. Perez was originally assigned to Bowie so he could get as many at-bats as possible this year, and so that Sisco could start full-time in Norfolk. There was talk that Wynns would move to 1B this season, but so far all nine of his starts have come at catcher. He doesn’t possess a lot of pop or speed, but Wynns is very good defensively, according to scouts within the Orioles’ organization. In over 2,000 innings of work since 2013, Wynns has a .993 fielding percentage and has gunned down 31% of base stealers. For perspective, Matt Wieters caught 32% of base runners during his time at Camden Yards and is among the leaders of active players.

Wynns is currently hitting .484 with a .543 OBP in 31 at-bats. He also has homered twice this season, something he did only 10 times in his previous 1,039 at-bats. I have watched a few games that Austin has started, and the one thing that really sticks out is his patience at the plate. In 1,070 career at-bats coming into the 2017 season, Wynns has walked only 84 times. He has four in 31 at-bats already this season.

His batting average has also increased each season since joining the system. He hit .251 in 2014 (all three A levels), .280 in 2015 (High-A and AA), and .287 in 2016 (High-A, AA, AAA). His OPS and slugging have also steadily increased, which means Wynns is seeing the ball well and having fewer problems adjusting to higher quality pitching as he moves up. Bowie’s opponents have raved about Austin during their production of games this season. While he may be second on the depth chart, the rest of the league is noticing his play.  

Performances like Wynns and others are proving something: this Orioles’ farm system is not what the “experts” think it is. The major league roster is full of homegrown talent that worked their way through the system. The Orioles have more wins the last three years than any other team in the American League. Impressive for a team with a “barren” farm system. Of course, the sample size is small and just like other players Baby Birdland has highlighted recently (Chris Clare, Cedric Mullins, Drew Dosch, etc.), the production may change dramatically, or at-least stabilize over the course of a 140 game season. Maybe the production continues? Either way, Wynns specifically, will be a fine prospect at the major league level. At his current pace, Wynns could be major league ready by 2019.


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