SALISBURY, MD - The Delmarva Shorebirds, in conjunction with the Baltimore Orioles, are pleased to announce that left-handed pitcher Alex Wells has been named the Orioles' 2017 Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The 20-year-old from Newcastle, New South Wales just completed one of the finest pitching seasons the Eastern Shore has seen in many a year. In 25 starts, Wells went 11-5 with a 2.38 ERA, 10 walks, and 113 strikeouts in 140 innings. He led the South Atlantic League in ERA and WHIP (0.91), and his 11 wins finished tied for second in the league. His 10 walks were the fewest in all of minor league baseball for pitchers who threw at least 110 innings.
Wells was locked in all season for the Shorebirds, leading the team with 17 quality starts and putting together eight scoreless starts of at least six innings. He anchored four of the team's nine shutouts on the year, including three in July. The southpaw pounded the strike zone and painted the corners with ruthless efficiency, never affording hitters more than a few seconds to regroup after a pitch.
In the front end of a doubleheader against Lakewood on April 26, Wells struck out the side in the first inning on 10 pitches in under two minutes. He set the tone for the morning, giving up just an unearned run on two hits in six quick frames. The Shorebirds won the seven-inning contest 2-1, wrapping up the final out before the clock struck noon.
Wells represented the Shorebirds proudly at the 2017 SAL All-Star Game in Columbia, S.C., pitching a perfect sixth inning for the Northern Division in a 3-3 tie. It was after the All-Star Break, however, that the Aussie cranked it up a notch. He rattled off a streak of seven straight quality starts to begin the second half, going 5-0 with a 1.23 ERA in that stretch.
In July, Wells took his craft to stratospheric heights. He didn't allow a run or walk all month, a span of 31 spotless innings, providing the cornerstones for shutout wins over Lakewood on July 5 and Rome on both July 17 and 23. The July 23 start in Rome saw Wells at the height of his power: over six scoreless innings, the only baserunner he allowed was on an infield single with two outs in the fifth. The Shorebirds beat the Braves 8-0 that afternoon.
By the end of July, Wells had stretched a scoreless innings streak that had begun in June to 36 consecutive innings. Both the Orioles and SAL recognized Wells' July dominance; he earned O's Minor League Pitcher of the Month and SAL Player of the Month.
While his scoreless streak came to an end during his first start in August, Wells' walkless streak endured all the way to the end of the season. He finished the year having not walked anybody in a span of 68 consecutive innings dating back to June 25. During that span, Wells went a couple starts without even reaching a three-ball count. In an August 10 win against Lakewood, only twice did he even fire two balls to a batter.
The Baltimore Orioles signed Wells as an international free agent out of Australia in 2015. Scouts Brett Ward and Mike Snyder worked to sign him.
The Orioles will honor Wells before tonight's game against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards. Per the team's press release issued a short time ago, Wells, along with Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, will be available to the media at 6:15 p.m. in the Oriole Park press box.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.