Baltimore Orioles: 2019 Draft Pick Toby Welk Is Making Quite A First Impression
The 2019 MLB Draft, Mike Elias’ first as GM of the Baltimore Orioles, is proving to be full of talented players. One, in particular, is having an impressive professional debut.
Aberdeen Ironbirds (A-Short) and Baltimore Orioles 2019 21st round selection third-baseman Toby Welk is off to a hot start in his first year of professional baseball. The 22-year-old native of Downingtown, Pennsylvania is making quite a name for himself with the bat; he currently is the Ironbirds leader in several offensive categories.
Welk is currently (as of 8/2) hitting .357/.425/ .476/ .901 with 15 runs scored, two home runs and 21 RBI through 34 games with the Ironbirds. He leads the team in games played, at-bats (126), hits (45), RBI and total bases (60) and is tied for the team lead in walks with 14.
Additionally, Welk is top 5 in the entire New York-Penn League in hits, second in both batting average and on-base percentage, third in OPS (on-base % plus slugging %) and top 10 in slugging percentage.
These early numbers are especially impressive from a 21st round draft pick out of a Division three school (Penn State Berks) . Picks in the lower half of the draft usually face long odds of making the show, and a D3 player is generally considered a bigger long-shot. Welk admitted as much in a post-draft interview with the Daily Collegian when he thanked Nathan Showalter (son of Buck Showalter) for scouting him saying, “I got to give props to him, because not many Division III kids get the shot.”
Welk’s collegiate numbers may prove he will be the exception. In four years with the Nittany Lions, Welk produced a career .433/ .508/ .768 slash line with 34 home runs and 201 RBI in 151 games. He was named the 2019 Division 3 National Player of the Year and was the first student-athlete from Penn State Berks to be drafted by a major sports league. In addition, Welk was a First Team All-American two years in a row (2018-2019).
At 6’2″ and 205 lbs. Welk possesses a frame that could still fill out a bit more, which will help him continue to barrel pitches and increase his fly ball rate of 31%. Welk’s current batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a robust .430 which further proves the young man can hit. Hopefully, with experience, however, his plate discipline will improve as he is currently walking at a 10% rate and striking out at a rate of almost 20%.
Welk, who considers himself a life-long underdog, is undoubtedly the surprise so far of the 2019 Baltimore draft class. The “Tobasaurus” (one of Welk’s nicknames) leads the entire draft class in hits and OPS, is second in batting average and on-base percentage and is tied for the lead in walks among the newest Orioles farmhands.
It is easy to root for a player like Welk; his play proves he is worthy of attention. Welk’s impressive start has put him on the map; now it is up to him to continue to stay on the map; I am confident that he will. Be prepared, Orioles fans, to hear much more about this 2019 draft pick.