Alexander Wells Rewards Orioles' Patience
Australian lefthander Alexander Wells could only watch as Orioles pitching prospects took turns impressing the front office and manager Brandon Hyde at big league spring training.
Wells injured his oblique and didn't throw in a Grapefruit League game. So the 24-year-old began the season in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation, where he ran up a 9.88 ERA in 13.2 innings in May.
The first month at Triple-A was a struggle. The lack of a healthy spring training had followed a 2020 season without minor league baseball and Wells’ exclusion from the summer and fall camps. He stayed in Australia and worked out, throwing with twin brother Lachlan Wells, a pitcher in the Twins organization.
Wells rebounded in June by striking out 19 in 18.1 innings and recording a 2.45 ERA. That performance helped earn him his first callup on June 26. He pitched two scoreless innings of relief in a blowout loss to the Blue Jays.
For the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Wells, his success is predicated on precision, not power. He doesn't throw hard. He just throws strikes, with a career minor league walk rate of 1.4 per nine innings.
“This is a guy who flies a little bit under the radar in our system, but his minor league success has been crazy so far. He’s dominated,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said.
The Orioles signed Wells internationally in 2015 and added him to the 40-man roster following the 2020 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year at Double-A Bowie in 2019.
“I think that the reason we were determined to protect him this time around is we view him as a potential starting pitcher," Elias said. "That’s a valuable asset."
— Double-A Bowie lefthander D.L. Hall, the 21st overall pick in the 2017 draft, went on the injured list with soreness in the back of his arm. An MRI didn’t show any structural damage, but the 22-year-old was shut down with a 3.13 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with 56 strikeouts in 31.2 innings.
— Outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been shut down again due to a recurrence of the inflammation in his heart. Kjerstad was participating in light workouts and conditioning exercises after being inactive last summer following a diagnosis of myocarditis.