LACHLAN Wells’s pitch sounds like a fast-moving grass fire scorching its way from the mound at Belmont’s Les Miller Field towards home plate.
It thwacks into the glove of his twin-brother Alexander who, after registering the pain in his left hand, says casually that Lachlan is only throwing them down at about 75 per cent.
The 17-year-old’s left arm is raw power, capable of producing a 148km/h (92mph) fastball, and has drawn the attention of more than a dozen Major League Baseball scouts.
But yesterday he used his right to make his sporting dream a reality, inking a deal with the Minnesota Twins and becoming the fifth Newcastle-native to sign with a Major League Baseball franchise.
‘‘This is a dream that I’ve had since I was a little kid and it’s finally coming true,’’ Lachlan said.
‘‘I’m stoked, I can’t wait to get over there.
‘‘This is a dream that I’ve had since I was a little kid and it’s finally coming true.’’– LACHLAN WELLS
‘‘It’s life-changing for me and my family because I get to spend six months of the year over in America, playing the sport I love and I know that I’m going to chase my dream.
‘‘We spoke to a number of clubs but in the end the Twins not only gave us a great offer but they also have a history of signing and looking after Australian baseballers. Minnesota also has a good farm system to get into the Major Leagues.’’
Lachlan signed his name alongside Twins international scouting co-ordinator Howie Norsetter in the boardroom of the Belmont Sports Club surrounded by friends and family.
Norsetter said Lachlan first came to his attention as a 15-year-old at the 2012 National Championships.
‘‘He was a first-year pitcher and out-fielder and he was throwing about 78 or 79 miles an hour (125 km/h),’’ Norsetter recalls.
‘‘He had a good delivery, good arm action, he was athletic and he had a real feel, passion and focus for the game.
‘‘He was one of those players you put on a follow list, a list of players that we think have a chance of getting better, then you go back and see them again and again and again.
‘‘I’ve watched him progress over the last few years and he has the attitude, the athleticism, the arm action, he has those ingredients that we look for in pitchers that we hope we are able to develop.
‘‘We’ve had a lot of success developing those types of pitchers and especially Australian pitchers.’’
Lachlan and Alexander began playing cricket for Belmont as kids before trying their hand at tee-ball when they were 10. They dropped cricket and focused on baseball at 14.
‘‘Because we were left-handed and had a cricketing background, we thought we might as well try our hand at pitching and it worked out all right,’’ Lachlan said.
‘‘It came pretty naturally.’’
Alexander, another blossoming baseball talent, pitches off-speed and hopes within the next 12months to sign professionally or take up an offer to study and play at an American college.
Lachlan and Alexander’s mother, Kylie Wells, who is the treasurer of Belmont Baseball Club, said the signing was rewarding for the whole family.
‘‘We are very happy for him, very proud,’’ Mrs Wells said. ‘‘We’ve seen him develop over the last few years, he’s probably got a bit more improvement to go before he hits his peak.’’
Lachlan joins Caves Beach outfielder Jason Rees, Toronto brothers Boss and Moko Moanaroa and Newcastle pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith as Novocastrians to sign with a Major League Baseball franchise.
He will look to emulate the success of Rowland-Smith, who pitched for the Seattle Mariners from 2007-2010, starting with extended spring training at the Twins’ minor league affiliate Fort Myers Miracle. He is expected to play in the Gulf Coast League, a Florida minor league, as he develops as a player. ‘‘It usually takes five or six years to get to the Major Leagues,’’ Norsetter said.
‘‘It’s a marathon, this is just the first step.’’