The Orioles announced Friday that lefty Alexander Wells has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He’ll remain with the club but no longer occupy a spot on the 40-man roster.
Prior to today’s announcement, the Orioles hadn’t designated Wells for assignment or publicly indicated that he was on waivers. He’s been out since May 1 due to a UCL sprain in his pitching elbow but seemingly avoided surgery. Injured players aren’t allowed to be placed on outright waivers, so it seems that Baltimore quietly returned him from the rehab assignment on which he’d been sent earlier this month and passed him through waivers. They’d otherwise have had to place Wells back on the 40-man roster, but that’s no longer necessary.
Wells, 25, was an international signee out of Australia back in 2015 and made his big league debut with Baltimore this past season. He’s pitched a total of 46 1/3 innings in the big leagues and posted a 6.60 ERA with a 15% strikeout rate, 7.5% walk rate and 30.2% ground-ball rate. Wells has never been a hard-thrower, evidenced by an average fastball of just 88.6 mph in his brief big league tenure, but he has some of the best command in the system. Scouting reports gave him potential 70-grade command prior to his MLB debut, and indeed, Wells has walked just 3.9% of his opponents in 544 2/3 minor league innings to this point in his career.
Wells has fared decently on his minor league rehab stint this month, tossing 15 innings across three levels and pitching to a 3.60 ERA with an 11-to-3 K/BB ratio. He’s worked almost exclusively as a starting pitcher to this point in his professional career, and now that he’s seemingly put this elbow issue behind him, he’ll be able to continue working toward an MLB return at the Triple-A level, where he still has just 66 innings of work and just 17 career appearances (including his only five bullpen outings).