The Baltimore Orioles have had little to cheer for this year, as their 24-53 record thus far has them sitting a cool 22.5 games back of first place in the American League East. There have been some exciting moments however, like John Means no-hitter and today’s big league debut of left-handed pitcher Alexander Wells. The 17th-ranked prospect in Baltimore’s system, Wells’ appearance today made him the 36th Australian player in MLB history.
A native of Newcastle, New South Wales, Alexander Wells was signed in July 2015 by the Orioles as an international free agent. Interestingly enough, one year prior his identical twin Lachlan had inked a contract with the Minnesota Twins. At first, Lachlan was the more highly-touted Wells brother, but a series of arm injuries has left him a bit behind developmentally, and he’s currently rehabbing with the Twins High-A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Meanwhile, Alexander Wells slowly but surely climbed the rungs of the minor league ladder, impressing the Orioles brass with 137.1 innings of 2.95 ERA ball for Double-A Bowie in 2019. The lack of a minor league season blocked any chance of a call-up in 2020, but he stayed in shape over the course of the year, and chose to sit out winter ball in his native Australian Baseball League in an effort to avoid injury. Alexander Wells got off to a bit of a rocky start this season in Triple-A, as he tossed 32 innings of 5.63 ERA work. However, with a rock solid 1.1 BB/9, his control was still there.
Despite pitching two innings out of the bullpen in his debut today, Wells projects as a back end of the rotation type who pitches to contact. With a middling 7.0 K/9 for his minor league career, Wells relies more on inducing soft contact rather than blowing hitters away. Sitting in the low nineties with his heater, Alexander Wells’ value comes from deception and movement. He has a big, looping curveball that hovers around the mid-seventies, but his premier offering is a low-to-mid-eighties changeup with sharp downward movement. In today’s era of power pitchers cramming fastballs down hitters’ throats, Alexander Wells is a throwback to a bygone age where pinpoint command and crisp breaking balls ruled the day.
Wells is sure to be shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2021, but with the Orioles already out of contention this cup of coffee gives him a good chance to stake a claim to one of their wide open rotation spots next year. The third Australian to play in MLB this season behind All-Star White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, and Twins swingman Lewis Thorpe, Alexander Wells is yet another example of the talent that the Land Down Under has sent to the majors in recent years. With his brother Lachlan, as well as standout prospects like Tampa Bay’s Curtis Mead and Philadelphia’s Rixon Wingrove, on their way to the big leagues, the future for Aussie baseballers has never been brighter.