First in a potential indefinite series, j.q. and I are going to try and do a weekly series on Oriole prospects, some prominently placed on Top 10 lists, and others less so.
First up on the list is Ronnie Welty. Ronnie Welty is a 6' 2" 180 pound 23 year old RF for your AA Bowie Baysox. He bats and throws right handed. He was drafted by the Orioles in the 20th round of the 2008 draft out of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, which is something of a baseball player factory. Welty has steadily climbed the ladder each season since being drafted: 2008 as a 20 year old in in Bluefield, 2009 as a 21 year old in Delmarva, 2010 as a 22 year old in the Carolina League, and this year as a 23 year old in the Eastern League.
Read more below the jump!
Welty has not made any top 20 Oriole prospects that I have seen. Coming into this season, the fine website orioles-nation.com rated Welty as the 45th top Oriole prospect, and given how much difficulty I had coming up with a top 10 list this off-season, he definitely seems like a stretch to even follow. However, there are some things I like about him...the most impressive part of Ronnie Welty's game has been his SLG percentage. It can be difficult to muddle through some minor league numbers because it's hard to keep track of park effects, fields, competition...any number of things. Ronnie Welty was 19th in the Carolina League in slugging in 2010. Of the 19 ahead of him, only 4 did in their age 20 or 21 season: Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Brandon Short and Chun-Hsui Chen. So that's some interesting company. 2011 is an important season, as is every season given that he was a 20th round pick, and again he is holding his own. He is currently 46th in SLG to date in the much larger Eastern League, with 11 kids younger than him on that list.
John Sickels has written about the importance of prospects being able to garner as many walks as possible, as this can offer a peek on whether or not a kid can effectively recognize balls and strikes. Sickels has written about using 10% as a guidepost. And looking at the correlation between walking and other positive offensive events, it seems to make sense. Welty caught my eye in 2009 because he walked 46 times in 491 plate appearances which was pretty close to that 10%. While he slugged very well in 2010, his BB% went down, dropping to 8.3%. So far in 2011 he has 24 walks in 235 plate appearances.
Strikeouts seem to be a significant problem for Welty. As a Baysox, he is striking out 29% of his at bats. This is actually a decrease from his time as a Key, where he was striking out 31.5% of the time. In Delmarva it was 24.4% of the time.
I don't know much about his defense other than he has 22 assists in 365 minor league games and he has spent the vast majority of his time as the RF.
Speed does not seem to be a big part of his game, as he has stolen 35 out of 50 bases as a minor leaguer. This year in Bowie he is 5 for 8.
Who will Ronnie Welty become? Well, it's doubtful he'll be more than a 3rd or 4th OF but he seems like an easy guy to root for and hopefully will fall somewhere in between former Orioles Dave Dellucci and Jeff Fiorentino.
What do you think?
2010 Carolina League leaders, sorted by SLG
John Sickels article on Top 20 Oriole prospects coming into 2011, where Welty receives a Grade C prospect, which he defines: