Prospect Update: Colton Welker, 3b, COL

Colton Welker has his eyes on Mile High. photo credit: Bill Mercey, Hartford Yard Goats

Name: Colton Welker, 3b

Class: Double-A, Eastern League, Hartford Yard Goats

ETA: 2020-21

Scouting: Colton Welker’s projections vary quite a bit amongst scouts. John Eshelman at 2080 baseball states that he has “future plus power,” which, at Coors Field, could yield 30 to 35+ homers a year. However, the team at Prospect361 only project him to hit 15 to 20.

Both reports provide similar insight on his hit tool, agreeing it to be above average, while also making references to a respectable approach at the plate.

Fangraphs agrees as well, ranking Welker’s hit tool as a 55, his game power at 55, but they give the raw power a bump to 60. This gives a bit more of an edge to the higher end of the power totals, rather than the low projection of 15 provided by Prospect361. But will the stats agree?

Defensively, Welker has played a bit of both corners in 2019, but he has been sticking at 3b and is serviceable. But with some guy named Nolan Arenado manning the hot corner for years to come (Arenado signed for 8 years in 2019), Welker will remain blocked until he changes position or is traded.

Stats: Some stat lines are easy to digest. They suggest a simple story without a ton of intangibles and weights. Welker is not one of those stat lines.

So far in his minor league career, he’s hitting an impressive .317/.366/.472. In 2018 in Advanced-A, he mashed his way to a .333/.383/.489 slash in 114 games. This after dominating the two levels beneath him in prior years to the tune of .329 and .350 batting averages.

2019 is proving to be a different story.

After making the leap to Double-A Hartford, Welker is having trouble finding his groove, batting .256/.310/.411. That .411 slugging starts making the fellas at Prospect361 look more convincing.

You’ll notice I hadn’t mentioned home runs in the stats thus far. Well, that’s because I wanted to touch upon the good first.

Welker has only hit 32 bombs in 1,215 AB in his minor league career, including 8 this year through 81 games. That sounds like a 15 to 20 home run pace to me.

His career slugging is .472, not bad but certainly not awe-inspiring for a corner infielder in the realm of dynasty baseball. Especially considering that no matter what level you’re playing at in the Rockies system, the ballpark favors hitters.

He’s also ice cold in his last 10 games, going 6 for 37 with no homers and 11 strikeouts.

Summary: Brrr. Not a great picture we’ve painted there at the end. Still, the beauty of baseball is that it is a game of constant adjustments. Welker is just 21-years-old and was raking against pitchers much older than he was at previous levels. He’s hit his first wall and needs to make the adjustments to find that dominance again.

Scouts believe in his hit tool and he’s got some history as a top performer. Per Jeff Aberle at SBNation:

In fact, if not for an abdominal strain that kept him out of play for two months in 2017, Welker would have been a strong contender for the South Atlantic League MVP as he led the league in average, on-base percentage, and OPS as a 19-year-old.

Overall, we haven’t yet seen the 30-homer pop. If you’re going to invest in Colton Welker, you can probably expect a decent floor because he’s a solid hitter in Coors Field. But remember, Arenado blocks him so if he doesn’t change positions, he probably gets traded out of Mile High. So the ceiling seems limited unless he proves he can find another level.

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