Unassuming looking teenager Lachlan Wells shines in pitching debut for C.R. Kernels

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CEDAR RAPIDS — When you first see Lachlan Wells, you kind of think to yourself ‘Ah, there’s the Cedar Rapids Kernels batboy.’

With the Clark Kent-esque glasses, the youthful face and 5-foot-8, 160-pound body, there’s no way you believe he’s a Kernels player, let alone a pitcher.

But he is. The 19-year-old left-hander from Australia made his Cedar Rapids debut Sunday, and it was a good one: 5 1/3 shutout innings and a 4-1 win over Beloit at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“Before the game, I was pretty nervous to start with,” Wells said, surviving the concentration-breaking attempts of teammate Cam Booser in the background. “But once I got out there and got that first inning under me, I was pumped and ready to go.”

Wells signed with the Minnesota Twins as a 17-year-old in August 2014, receiving a bonus of $300,000. Scout Howie Norsetter has signed several Aussies over the years for the club.

Not physically imposing, Wells has a smooth delivery and fastball that was consistently 90 to 93 miles per hour Sunday. His changeup is considered his out pitch right now, with work needed on his breaking ball.

He sat in Florida at Twins extended spring training until last week, when he was promoted to the Kernels. He pitched in and out of trouble throughout his first start here, allowing seven hits and a walk, striking out three.

“I got myself into some tough situations,” he said. “But being able to make those pitches and get out of it, limit the damage to zero runs, that was really good. Really good for the team to get the win today. Just a great day.”

“Good debut,” Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said. “He’s going to be all right. He’s a young pup, but he’s pitched on the international scene for awhile. He’s not intimidated by being here.”

Wells has an identical twin brother, Alex, who was signed last year by the Baltimore Orioles (also for $300,000) and is in short-season Class A ball for Aderdeen. He threw six shutout innings the other night, so it’s been quite a week for the Wells boys.

They actually grew up playing cricket in their home country but got introduced to the game of baseball at about age 10 and instantly fell in love with it. By the way, how cool would it have been if Alex Wells had chosen to sign with Minnesota?

Twin brothers pitching for the Twins.

“I chose the Twins because of the farm system they had,” Lachlan said. “I heard a lot of good comments from the Australian boys that had played with them. That really made it a lot easier choice. I kind of got left out of that (conversation) when my brother signed, but I’m sure he made the right choice by him. It’s a dream that my brother and I both had when we were younger. We’re working hard towards making it. Both getting a chance to pitch professional baseball is really cool.”

The Kernels (39-34 overall) won three of four games in this Midwest League second-half opening series. Luis Arraez went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, with J.J. Fernandez chipping in an RBI double.

Anthony McIver and Kuo Hua Lo finished things up in relief of Wells, with Lo throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save. The Kernels are on the road for a week, with four games at Quad Cities (beginning Monday Night) and three at Beloit.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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