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Casper Wells

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Casper Charles Wells

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[edit] Biographical Information

Casper Wells came to the majors in 2010.

Wells hit .357 as a college freshman then .337 with 41 runs in 51 games as a sophomore in 2004. He was named All-Colonial Athletic Association at DH. In 2005, the junior batted .362 and scored 70 runs with 18 homers and 66 RBI in 58 contests. He tied Ryan Braun, Micah Owings, Nick Stavinoha and others for 17th in NCAA Division I in circuit clouts. Wells paced the CAA in runs scored and was named the All-Conference utility man. He was also named the Association's Player of the Year. The Detroit Tigers took him in the 14th round of the 2005 amateur draft, signing with scout Bill Buck.

Wells made his pro debut with the GCL Tigers, hitting .220/.341/.461 with a Gulf Coast League-worst 59 strikeouts in 141 at-bats. His five triples did tie for second in the GCL, two behind leader Matt Spath. He was unimpressive in 2006 with the Oneonta Tigers (.229/.305/.333 in 35 G) and Lakeland Tigers (.152/.300/.273 in 11 G). He did not look like a player who would still be in pro baseball in four years, let alone the major leagues.

Casper made big strides in 2007. After a 1 for 2 start for Lakeland, he returned to Oneonta, where he hit .265/.323/.523. He led the New York-Penn League in triples (11), total bases (136) and extra-base hits (38). He was third in slugging, .010 behind leader Todd Martin and tied for 5th with 9 homers, 3 shy of the leader. He was 3 for 12 with another triple in the playoffs.

Wells began 2008 with the West Michigan Whitecaps and hit .240/.351/.447 with 10 homers and 17 steals in 22 tries in 50 games. On May 2, he was hit by four pitches, a Midwest League record. After being named a Midwest League mid-season All-Star, he was promoted to the AA Erie SeaWolves, where he did even better, with a .289/.376/.589 line, 17 homers and 53 RBI in 60 games. Overall, he had 27 home runs, 79 RBI and 25 steals. Wells and Greg Halman were the only two minor leaguers to have 25 HR and 25 SB on the year. On July 29, he hit for the cycle. He hit .321 with 8 homers and 23 RBI in 23 games in the Arizona Fall League, tying for third in the AFL in homers and finishing 4th in slugging (.705). Baseball America rated him Detroit's #13 prospect.

The Michigan native missed almost two months early in 2009 with a left wrist sprain. He returned to bat .260/.369/.489 with 15 homers and 52 runs in 86 games. He tied three others for the Eastern League lead with four outfield twin killings. He batted .351 with 25 RBI in 21 games in the AFL, finishing third in RBI and slugging (.662) and 10th in average. Baseball America downgraded him to the #16 Tigers prospect.

Wells started 2010 with the Toledo Mud Hens, hitting an unimpressive .203/.282/.390 after 31 games. He was called up to the majors to replace Alfredo Figaro on the roster. He became Detroit's third rookie outfielder of 2010, joining Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch. In his MLB debut, he hit second and played left field, batting behind Jackson. He grounded out his first two at-bats against Jon Lester and fanned the next two before leaving for pinch-hitter Johnny Damon. He did have an outfield assist, gunning down Dustin Pedroia. His first MLB hit was a single off Dallas Braden four days later. That same day, he hit a two-run double against Michael Wuertz to bring in Jackson and Damon. After going 2 for 9 with the Tigers, he was returned to the minors in favor of Ryan Raburn. He completed his AAA season hitting .233/.309/.483 in 103 games for Toledo, with 22 doubles, 6 triples and 21 homers compensating partially for the low batting average. He came back to Detroit towards the end of the year, and did very well in his second go-round, bringing his batting line to a sparkling .323/.364/.538 in 36 games. Despite his time in the majors, he still tied Andy Tracy and Jesus Montero for 7th in the 2010 International League in dingers.

Wells made the Tigers' roster as a fourth outfielder out of spring training in 2011. He played 64 games before being sent down to AAA in late July, hitting .257/.323/.451 with 4 homers and 12 RBI in only 113 at-bats. He played only 7 games in Toledo, hitting .370/.433/.815 with 6 extra-base hits, before being included in a trading deadline deal with the Seattle Mariners on July 30th. It was a key move for the Tigers, as they acquired P Doug Fister, who became the team's number 2 starter behind the great Justin Verlander with an outstanding two months down the stretch, but Seattle received good talent in return, in Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and minor leaguer Francisco Martinez. Wells headed to Seattle immediately and finished the 2011 season in the Pacific Northwest, playing 31 games, during which he hit only .216 but with 7 homers (giving him a .431 slugging to go with his .310 OBP, a 109 OPS+ with the M's, same as with Detroit) and 15 RBI.

With the Mariners sporting a number of young outfielders to play besides Ichiro Suzuki in 2012, Wells had trouble getting playing time in the early going. He had only accumulated 29 at-bats when he was given a rare start on May 13th against left-hander Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees, who was making his return to the major leagues after a year's retirement. Casper's mother drove all the way from Schenectady, NY to attend the Mother's Day contest, asking her son to make it memorable. He complied by hitting a homer in the 6th inning, going 2 for 4 with a walk, as the Mariners pulled out a 6-2 win. He played 98 games that year, accumulating 285 at-bats and hit .228 with 12 doubles, 13 homers, 42 runs and 36 RBIs.

The numbers' crunch became harsher with the Mariners in 2013, and as a result, Wells had a roller coaster season that saw him be part of five organizations during the year, including four in the span of a single month. The Mariners placed him on waivers in early April, before he could play a game for them, and he was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays on April 10th. He still had not played a single game before the Oakland Athletics purchased his contract on April 22nd. They used him in 3 games, in which he went 0 for 5, and then he was on the move again, this time purchased by the Chicago White Sox on April 29th. He became a back-up outfielder with the White Sox, playing 38 games, but getting only 66 at-bats during which he hit .167. On June 28th, he made his first career pitching appearance, pitching a scoreless 9th inning in a blowout loss to the Cleveland Indians in the first game of a doubleheader. With the White Sox in last place and wanting to look at some younger players, Wells was placed on waivers again in early August and this time was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies on August 8th, his fifth team that season. His playing time did not increase, as he only got into 12 more games, going 1 for 24 (.042) for a seasonal mark of .126/.186/.147. His most memorable game was his return to the mound, however, when he was pressed into pitching duty in the 18th inning of a marathon game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 24th, moving in from his right field spot. With the score tied at 7-all, he tried to keep his team in the game, but found out it was a lot harder to pitch in the majors when the opposing hitters were actually trying to win the game. He allowed 3 hits and 3 walks, leading to 5 runs, in two-thirds of an inning before utility man John McDonald had to take over in order to get the last out, while Wells returned to the outfield position he should never have left. The Phillies lost the game, 12-7, and Wells became only the 5th position in the 21st century to be charged with a loss. With the two position players taking the mound, the Phillies set a National League record by using 11 pitchers in an extra-inning game.

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