Down on the Farm – Randy Wells

wellspub.jpg Another interesting story about a player invited to spring training this year is that of pitcher Randy Wells. He ended the season at AAA last year but struggled once he arrived at Iowa. Now that isn’t the interesting part of his story. When the Cubs drafted Wells back in 2002, he was a catcher. If you see Randy Wells in a game now you will find him on the mound. You might wonder how he went from a catcher on draft day in 2002 to a pitcher today.

During the 2003 season, after appearing in 42 games as catcher in 2002 and 2003, the Cubs converted Wells to a pitcher. If you look at his statistics as a catcher, it was easy to see why a change was needed. As a catcher, his chances of making it to the major leagues were not very good. He was not guaranteed anything as a pitcher but it was worth a shot. After all it wasn’t the first time the Cubs had converted a catcher into a pitcher having done the same with Carlos Marmol.

If you look at Wells’ offensive statistics they point to a guy that wasn’t a good hitter. In 124 at bats, he had a .159 batting average, no home runs, five RBI’s, and an OBP of .230 and this at the lowest levels of minor league ball. A change was something he needed and now as a pitcher he has impressed the Cubs’ scouts and has made it within one promotion of the big leagues. For a second straight year, Wells has been invited to spring training with an opportunity to show management what he can do. Wells didn’t pitch badly last spring, finishing with a 2.70 ERA over 6.2 innings pitched. The Cubs sent him to AA towards the end of spring training where he had continued success.

Wells started the 2006 season at AA West Tennessee and he dominated with a 1.59 ERA, a 4-2 record in 12 games. He also showed good control with 53 K’s and 14 walks. The Cubs then promoted him to AAA Iowa where he struggled a little but still finished with a 5-5 record, and a 4.96 ERA in 13 games. His control was still there as he had 59 K’s and 23 walks. His combined record was 9-7 with a 3.37 ERA, 49 earned runs in 131 innings pitched. In 13 games (12 starts) in AAA he gave up two or fewer earned runs in 7 of the 12 starts and had a 4-game winning streak last season with 3 of the wins coming in games he started.

Wells has been a much better pitcher that he was a catcher. If he continues his success, he should be close to seeing Wrigley Field. He is still likely to spend the entire 2007 season at Iowa but considering injuries are always an issue, that could give Wells an opportunity to make his big league debut this season. Now Wells has been a starter and a reliever in the minors but his best chance to make the big league club, most think, would be as a reliever. Many believe that he doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter in the majors and would be better fit at the back end of the bullpen.

Scout.com has Wells listed as the 14th best Cubs prospect. Don’t look at that and think his chances of making the team are less than those in the Top 10. Most of the top players listed are either position players or starting pitchers, which are the positions that make or break a team’s success. Don’t get me wrong, a strong bullpen is important but a top starting pitcher will always get more attention than a reliever will. Wells doesn’t mind and he is re-embracing his role pitching out of the pen, one that brought him so much success early in his career. Wells has a good change-up and has been working on adding a slider. So far this spring he has pitched in 2 games and has allowed 1 run on 2 hits, walked a batter and has not recorded a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.

The Cubs are high on Wells and with the possible rotation the I-Cubs will have this season, Wells is likely destined to work on his craft out of the pen with the likes of Rocky Cherry and Clay Rapada.

Scout.com Top 20 Prospects

  • 1. Felix Pie
  • 2. Donald Veal
  • 3. Mark Pawelek
  • 4. Eric Patterson
  • 5a. Jeff Samardzija
  • 5b. Sean Gallagher
  • 6. Tyler Colvin
  • 7. Scott Moore
  • 8. Ryan Harvey
  • 9. Jae-Kuk Ryu (traded to Tampa Bay)
  • 10. Clay Rapada
  • 11. Brian Dopirak
  • 12. Chris Shaver
  • 13. Jake Fox
  • 14. Randy Wells
  • 15. Mitch Atkins
  • 16. Adam Harben
  • 17. Billy Petrick
  • 18. Carmen Pignatiello
  • 19. Rocky Cherry
  • 20a. Casey McGehee
  • 20b. Chris Walker

Randy Wells’ Baseball Cube page

Coming Next: Down on the Farm – Casey McGehee

Quote of the Day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
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