Twins' Wells tosses six scoreless innings

Cedar Rapids lefty strikes out eight, lowers ERA to 1.27 in second win

Left-hander Lachlan Wells has 19 strikeouts in four starts for Cedar Rapids this season. (Cedar Rapids Kernels)

By Danny Wild / MiLB.com | July 14, 2016 3:45 PM

Lachlan Wells rarely talks about baseball with his twin brother, Alex, but on Thursday he couldn't resist.

The Australian twins -- Alex is an Orioles prospect -- entered the day with identical 1.76 ERAs this season.

"Being twins and having the same ERA, it's a little freaky," Lachlan Wells laughed. "When I first found out, I thought, 'That's actually pretty cool.' To be in different leagues and pitching against different hitters and having the same ERA? It was really cool, and I talked to him about it -- he didn't even realize it until I told him."

But the Twins' No. 28 prospect changed that scenario by striking out eight over six scoreless innings in his fourth start of the season on Thursday to lead Class A Cedar Rapids past host Lake County, 8-1.

Wells (2-1), who lowered his ERA to 1.27, walked no one or and didn't let a runner get into scoring position in the longest start of his career. The 19-year-old left-hander limited Lake County to four hits.

"I felt good on the mound today," he said. "My plan going into the game, that was the big thing for me, just staying in the game plan and executing my pitches. That's what I thought worked well for me today."

Wells worked a 1-2-3 first inning and pitched around a leadoff single in the second, getting David Armendariz to fly out to center field and striking out Jose Medina and Sicnarf Loopstok. He struck out two in the third, benefited from a double play in the fourth and whiffed two more to end the fifth before Willi Castro added the Captains' final base hit against the southpaw in the sixth.

Wells said he wanted to throw early strikes and keep the Captains off-balance.

"Just get ahead of hitters, get into good counts early and put them away with my good pitches down in the zone," he said. "I felt today that everything was working for me. I didn't really think about how good I was pitching. I didn't try to think of that. I was just thinking about getting three outs every inning and getting my team back out there to score some more runs."

The Kernels (47-43) charged ahead in the third with five runs, thanks in part to a three-run homer by cleanup hitter Zander Wiel. The first baseman leads the team with seven homers. Jaylin Davis added a solo shot in the sixth, his second, and Luis Arraez went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored for Cedar Rapids.

"It's always good to get those early runs to work with," Wells said. "It gives you a little more support, and to be able to throw all your pitches in any count, it just gives you a little protection to throw good strikes."

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Lachlan (left) and Alex Wells both owned 1.76 ERA entering play Thursday. (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Patrick Cavey)

Minnesota discovered Wells in the Australian Baseball League, where he had struggled with control in seven outings from 2013-2015. He signed with the Twins in November 2014 and made his Minor League debut last June with the Gulf Coast League Twins, for whom he went 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 47 1/3 innings.

He got a bit of a delayed start to the 2016 season when Minnesota kept him in Florida at extended spring training until late June, but Wells has been sharp with the Kernels, allowing two earned runs or fewer in all four of his starts so far. He picked up his first win June 26 in his debut, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings, before turning in a pair of five-inning starts against Beloit and Kane County.

"It's been a real good experience," Wells said. "It's a different experience compared to the GCL last year. It's a lot better playing in front of a lot of people. It's a really good experience here."

He said he sees similarities in the skill levels between Midwest League hitters and those he faced in the ABL.

"I guess they're pretty similar," Wells said. "In the ABL, there are guys you can tell have played a high level of baseball -- Triple-A or Double-A -- so you get to face some really good hitters down there in the ABL."

As for his brother, Wells said he often texts with the fellow left-hander after each of them throws. Alex, who is five inches taller than his twin, is 2-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings for Class A Short Season Aberdeen this year.

"I don't really get to talk to him much, but when I do, we don't talk about baseball -- we try to catch up and have a nice chat," he said. "If baseball pops up, it's like, 'Hey, how've you been throwing it?' We don't try to talk about baseball. But we do send each other messages after we throw just to say, 'How'd you feel?' or 'Good job.'"

Taiwanese right-hander Shao-Ching Chiang (5-7) got roughed up in his 18th start of the year, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings for Lake County.

Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow his MLBlog column, Minoring in Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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