In the Cal League, where dry air, high altitudes and bandbox ballparks conspire to drive pitchers crazy, the big right-hander delivered the way the Padres' player development people thought he could.
He posted a league-leading 3.44 ERA and earned 11 wins before getting a promotion to Double-A Mobile in July. His two complete games were best on the circuit and he recorded one of only three shutouts seen in the league this year. All of which earned him not only California League Pitcher of the Year, but my nod as the MadFriars.com pitcher of the year at Lake Elsinore.
Wells relies heavily on his low-90's fastball, but this season he used his change up more, and more effectively, than he had previously.
"They were preaching to me the entire season," said Wells. "I would throw it between 11-15 times a game most of the time and it worked out pretty well."
Although his strikeout numbers were a bit lower than previous years, he went after hitters more aggressively and tried to get outs early in at-bats. Those were exactly the result both Wells and the Padres wanted to see.
After his promotion, Wells delivered quality starts for Mobile in three of his first four outings before tiring a bit at the end of the season. Even with the slight down-turn at the end of the year, Wells clearly emerged as one of the Padres' top starting prospects this season, and will be a likely addition to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft in December.
Several of Wells' teammates at Elsinore made strides as well. Reliever Paul Abraham was completely dominant as a setup man before his mid-June promotion. He made 20 appearances before allowing his first earned runs of the season, yielding only a 1.07 ERA in 42 innings total. Behind Abraham, closer Leo Rosales led the California League with 27 saves. Rosales struck out 77 in 65 innings and posted a 3.18 ERA.
Joining Wells in the Storm rotation to start \the year, Sean Thompson dominated before moving up to Mobile. In six starts, he posted a miniscule 2.16 ERA and struck out 45 in 33 1/3 innings. While Javier Martinez had respectable numbers, he was once again shut down for Tommy John surgery in August, likely pushing any possible return to the 2007 season.