If more pitchers worked like Alex Wells, baseball's pace of play issue would be a thing of the past.
Baltimore's No. 15 prospect scattered three hits, didn't allow a walk and struck out five over seven innings to lead Class A Delmarva over Lakewood, 2-0, on Wednesday.
Wells (7-4) has only allowed 10 free passes in 90 innings this year and hasn't issued more than two in any of his 16 starts for the Shorebirds.
"Walking guys slows the game down and I don't like a slow game of baseball," he said. "I just get up there and pound the zone as much as I can to get weak contact early. I like to work fast. I like to get up there, pitch, get back on the rubber and make another pitch very quickly."
"Everybody likes a quick game, especially the defense behind you," Delmarva pitching coach Justin Lord added. "You want to keep the guys behind you in the game and engaged. When you have a good pace and tempo, that's what you do. Whether he's behind or ahead, he kept a good rhythm and tempo to his game."
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In the first inning, Wells allowed a leadoff double to Arquimedes Gamboa, who reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Raul Rivas. The early jam seemed to snap the southpaw into form as he struck out Brett Barbier and Darick Hall to end the frame and then followed with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings.
"The double made me lock in really quickly," Wells said. "I had to really focus on the next hitter on how I was going to approach him and see if they put down a sacrifice bunt, which they did, but then I was able to get the next two guys to get out of the jam unscathed."
The 20-year-old faced another hurdle in the fifth when David Martinelli led off the frame with a triple. Wells needed just eight pitches to escape the threat and keep the shutout intact.
"One thing you do notice about Alex is that he's mature for his age and takes the ball and pitches no matter the situation," Lord said. "Whether he's up by five, up by one or down by six -- he's going to give you everything he's got. He doesn't let situations affect him, he gets the ball and he pitches."
After a clean sixth, Wells worked around a throwing error by third baseman Alejandro Juvier in the seventh to complete his outing in his third consecutive quality start.
"I didn't have what I had in the first inning in the seventh. I felt a little tired, but I grinded it out by mixing up some pitches and making quality pitches to get the outs in big situations," he said.
Wells' strong first half landed him a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star Game roster. It's been an eventful first full season for the native of Australia, who is still adjusting to life in the Minor Leagues.
"It's different coming all this way and competing in the South Atlantic League. We've only got the Australian Baseball League back home, and you wouldn't see the talent there that we see here every day. It's definitely eye-opening, but it's always good to go up against that type of competition."
Throughout the season, Wells has been able to rely on twin brother Lachlan Wells, who pitches for Class A Advanced Fort Myers.
"We try to talk throughout the week about how our outings went and how we felt out there," he said. "It's always good to have someone close to you that's over here going through the same thing that you are."
Wells also takes comfort in an old favorite -- Vegemite -- from his homeland. The polarizing food spread hasn't necessarily taken the Shorebirds by storm.
"I've brought the Vegemite into the clubhouse. Not many people are a fan of it, but I'll always have it on my sandwich," he laughed.
Steven Klimek worked around a pair of hits in the eighth and Jake Bray did the same in the ninth to cap the shutout.
Fourth-ranked Phillies prospect Sixto Sanchez (3-3) allowed a pair of runs on four hits and struck out four over five innings for the BlueClaws.