Orioles infield prospect Toby Welk has embraced the challenges posed by his call-up to Double-A Bowie from High-A Aberdeen earlier this year. His call-up placed him one step closer to the big leagues and allowed him to play alongside a dominant group of players.
“It is arguably one of the best teams in Minor League Baseball talent-wise, and to be a part of that and now watch these guys play and see how they play the game every day and have it rub off on me,” Welk said on Glenn Clark Radio Aug. 3, before Adley Rutschman’s promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. “I’m so excited to get the opportunity to see these guys play in person, let alone be on the field with them and try and win ballgames with them.”
The corner infielder defied the odds to reach the position that he is in today. Welk was selected by Baltimore in the 21st round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Penn State Berks. He was the first player to ever be drafted out of the school and was the second player picked out of a Division III player in that year’s draft class.
Welk, 24, has altered his approach since his call-up to Bowie at the end of June. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Welk now focuses more on an area of the strike zone rather than the type of pitch being thrown. The right-handed hitter strives to make contact while being both selective and aggressive.
“I’m looking for a pitch in a certain spot as opposed to sitting on one certain thing … so I kind of try to sit more zones, and I’ve been working on that and trying to hit pitches over the middle of the plate as opposed to just trying to hit the fastball or trying to hit the curveball every at-bat,” Welk said.
Welk has produced eight home runs since being assigned to Bowie, including one that traveled 444 feet.
“When I hit it, I kind of looked at it for a second because I usually don’t hit them that high. They’re more of on a line drive,” Welk said. “I kind of took two steps out of the box — I knew I hit it well — and then I got about two, three steps out and then I realized how far [it went].”
The Pennsylvania native has hit .206/.305/.418 with seven home runs, seven doubles and 15 RBIs across 38 games with the Baysox this season entering play Aug. 9. Welk hit .265/.367/.364 with two home runs, five doubles and 19 RBIs throughout 36 games with Aberdeen earlier this season.
Welk credits his progression from Division III ball to the Baysox to the confidence he has in himself, adding that he always tries to believe in himself regardless of the circumstances.
“Definitely right away I believed in myself,” Welk said. “I think if you don’t believe in yourself, I don’t think anybody will.”
His college numbers proved that he was capable of playing in pro ball. Welk hit .433/.508/.768 with 34 home runs, 201 RBIs, 16 triples and 53 doubles at Penn State Berks from 2016-2019. His dominant level of play as a senior (.483/.555/.938 with 13 homers) led him to earning D3baseball.com National Player of the Year honors in 2019.
Now, Welk is excited about growing and improving alongside a talented group of players in Bowie that includes right-hander Grayson Rodriguez. The infielder believes the strong level of competition will only motivate him to keep pushing forward.
“We’re focused on one game at a time,” Welk said. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves a month and a half away [from the playoffs]. So we’re just going to keep playing hard.”
For more from Welk, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: William Vaughan/Bowie Baysox