"I'm excited and am going to take every advantage of it," Wells said Thursday morning. "I'm pretty giddy right now. It's a huge opportunity."
Wells, who was originally drafted as a catcher in the 38th round of the 2002 draft from Southwestern Illinois College, spent most of his career in the Cubs' farm system as a pitcher. His best seasons were as a starter in 2005 and 2006, when he totaled 19 victories between Class High-A Daytona, Class AA West Tennessee, and Class AAA Iowa, respectively.
Wells spent all of 2007 at Iowa, appearing mostly in relief. He was 3-2 with two saves and a 3.05 ERA in 31 relief appearances, spanning 56 innings. The Belleville native also made nine starts, going 2-4 with a 6.58 ERA.
Wells began 2007 in the starting rotation, but was sent to the bullpen after allowing 16 earned runs in his first three starts. He always said that he preferred to pitch in relief anyway because he was more relaxed entering games out of the bullpen.
"Just staying consistent," Wells said of what he was working on in the second half of the season at Iowa. "I was a little more inconsistent than I usually was. It seemed like when I got beat, I (really) got beat. I was trying to find that happy median.
"If you take away those bad days early ... I think I had a pretty good year," he said. "There were a lot of good things to take away from last year. I had a lot of strikeouts and I finished real strong. I found my slider toward the end of the year and had the pretty good breaking ball with a good changeup."
Wells struck out 101 batters in 95 2/3 innings this past season, marking the fourth straight year he totaled over 100 strikeouts in a season.
He features a four-seam fastball, changeup and slider.
"One thing I tried to eliminate (was) tinkering with so many things," he said. "I just tried to stay consistent with those three pitches and make those three consistently good. I tried to eliminate all of the stuff that I wasn't really confident in and started focusing on those three pitches and on getting guys out on four pitches or less."
Wells added that he has nothing but love for the Cubs. He could still wind up back with Chicago next year if he fails to stay on Toronto's 25-man roster (or the DL) for the duration of 2008. He could then be offered back to the Cubs for $25,000.
"I became a man in that organization and have nothing but good things to say about them," Wells said. "If I do end up back with them, I'll take it in stride. A lot of guys have bitterness toward the organization when they leave, but I have zero."
Marlins Take Mendez
The Cubs lost one player in the Double-A phase of the Rule Five Draft in 25-year-old RHP Adalberto Mendez, who spent most of 2007 at Tennessee.
Mendez was signed as a non-drafted free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2001 and appeared in over 200 games a reliever in the Cubs' farm system.
This past season, he was 3-4 with a 4.83 ERA in 59 2/3 innings with the Smokies.
"Today we lost Randy wells and Adalberto Mendez," Cubs Farm Director Oneri Fleita said.
"Great kids who will be missed. You hate to lose any players, but we wish them well."
Mendez spent a good portion of 2007 working on mechanics with Double-A pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn at Tennessee.
"He's got a plus-arm," Lewallyn said of Mendez this past summer. "The ball comes out of his hand very nice and he can pitch every day. He still doesn't command the ball well enough and his breaking ball is mediocre, but it's getting better."
Cubs Acquire Lahey from Devil Rays
Tampa Bay selected RHP Tim Lahey from Minnesota with the first overall pick in Thursday's draft. There was one catch, however – the Rays traded the 25-year-old to the Cubs, who in turn forfeited their own selection.
Lahey appeared in 50 games last season with Class AA New Britain of the Eastern League, going 8-4 with 13 saves and a 3.45 ERA in 78 1/3 innings. He made his Triple-A debut with Rochester in late August.
Drafted as a catcher in 2004 from Princeton University in the Ivy League, Lahey converted to pitcher after just one season in the Appalachian League in '04.
He went 15-6 with a 3.91 ERA in 179-plus innings the last three seasons.