Alex Wells, Ready for the Challenge by Rodger M. Wood

Australian Orioles LHP prospect, Alex Wells, knows it will be challenging for him to pitch at Camden Yards some day, but he is showing positive signs he will be ready for the test.

In 2012, Baseball Almanac listed only 31 Aussies who had played in at least one major league game, 21 pitchers and 10 position players. While White Sox RHP Grant Balfour pitched in the 2013 All Star Game, but other star Australian players have been far and few in between.

Almost every single kid in Australia is said to play at least some T- ball, but 99 percent of them will never play the sport again afterwards. -They leave and play rugby, cricket and other sports.

Alex and his twin brother Lachlan, growing up in Newcastle, did the reverse. They played cricket first and then switched to baseball. Alex said, “it was a natural adjustment for them. The sports were very similar in skills requirements and fundamentals.”

Both pitched youth and school ball, Lachlan a RHP, and Alex a LHP, and made the roster of the Australia National Baseball Team in the World Baseball Classic.

In 2015, the Minnesota Twins signed Lachlan to a contract as an international free agent, shortly afterwards, the Orioles signed Alex to a $300,000 contract. Reports are that Lachlan was signed first because he threw a couple mph faster than Alex, but Alex was said to be the better long term major league prospect.

In the short season Rookie NY/Penn League at Aberdeen in 2016, Alex was 4-5 W-L, compiling a 2.15 ERA in 13 GS, 62.2 IP. He walked only 9 batters, and struck out 50.

In 2017 at Low A-Delmarva, Wells pitched even better, 11-5 W-L, 2.38 ERA, 25 GS, 140 IP, 10 BB and a phenomenal 113 K. When presenting Alex the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, Orioles General Manager, Dan Duquette predicted, “Hopefully we’ll see Alex out here pitching for the Orioles soon.”

Wells dominated at Delmarva for long stretches last season. In a 5 straight starts stretch, 31 IP, he didn’t allow a run. The last 66 IP, he did not walk a single batter. Command of his pitches, and getting the ball over the plate without the batter hitting it were his forte. .

So far in the current season at Fast A- Frederick, he is 2-5, with a 3.90 ERA in 80.2 IP, 53 K and 24 BB. Alex admits the Carolina League experience is very challenging. “The first time around the circuit, I was getting acquainted with the hitters. They are very tough outs, very challenging lineups. I’m trying to pound the K-zone and get the hitters out.”

A former Orioles, Red Six and A’s pitcher himself and Orioles minor league pitching coordinator, John Wasdin says “Wells is definitely a good prospect. This season is challenging for him, the hitters are more advanced, older, but he’s learning how to use his pitches against them, and how to repeat the mechanics. He is making good progress in learning how to read their swings and get them out.

The (4 seam) fast ball is his primary weapon, he throws in the high 80s and tops out about 91-92. He uses his fast ball aggressively to set up his curve and change up which he throws with a convincing arm action and nice sinking action. Some think his fast ball will top out about 91-92 mph, but with his heart, athleticism, and hard work between starts, I think his velocity may increase.” .

He must be succeeding in meeting the Carolina League challenges because he was named a 2018 Carolina League All Star and pitched the 5th inning of the All Star Game at Zebulon, North Carolina on June 19th, allowing just a hit and 2 unearned runs.

Last spring Baseball America named him the Orioles 2018 thirteenth top minor league prospect.

Step by step, slowly but surely, Alex is overcoming the obstacles and lowering the odds that he will indeed pitch at Camden Yards.

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Parents, family members, teammates,and friends can view and if they want obtain copies of the photos I took at Alex’s start against Winston Salem 29th in the photo galleries / featured photos / Frederick Keys 2018.

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In the August issue of the Orioles Kids Magazine, Alex will be featured in a Minor Marvels interview by David Driver.
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