When O’s fans talk about some of the best prospects on the Orioles farm, they often leave Ronnie Welty off the list.
Maybe they shouldn’t.
Sometimes overlooked, but productive now for three seasons in a row, the 22-year-old Welty is coming off a real solid season in the Carolina League.
In 130 games with Frederick, the right fielder hit .282-18-82 with 32 doubles, 86 runs and an OPS of .814.
“I started out really good and was really pleased with my start. Then got into kind of a funk in the middle there, it was mostly mental. That’s what I really worked on in the second half and that helped me get back to where I was early in the year,” Welty said.
Welty had a big second half, batting .311-9-46 with a .884 OPS after the All-Star game. Welty is expected to play winter ball in Australia when that league begins later this week.
You may not realize it, but Welty, a 20th-round draft pick in 2008, has made the post-season all-star team in all three leagues he has played in.
It started in the Appalachian League with Bluefield in 2008 and continued last year when he hit .290-10-67 with Delmarva of the South Atlantic League.
He made the Carolina League team after a season when he was 2nd in the league in runs, 3rd in RBI, tied for 4th in homers and 5th in hits, extra-base hits and slugging.
Despite those numbers, Welty realizes that among media and fans and even some scouts he flies somewhat “under the radar.”
“It would be cool to be recognized as a prospect, but I don’t worry about that too much. I just go out and play my game and play hard and it doesn’t go un-noticed. Everything you do is watched.
“A lot of it is confidence. I believe in myself and know I can do it. Playing my first full season last year, I didn’t have too much up and down and stayed around .300 most of the year.
“This year, I dropped down a bit and had to really battle. It was a new thing for me. But you learn the most when you are struggling. I really improved in that area.”
The resident of Gilbert, Arizona gave Keys coach Denny Hocking some praise for his help this season.
“We had a routine and we’d go through it every day. I take some soft toss and work on going the other way. Work on pitches in and then back away again. I really feel that helped keep my swing consistent through the whole year.”
Frederick manager Orlando Gomez was impressed by Welty’s play this season.
“He put up outstanding numbers. He was like ten hits shy of hitting .300. He used to get down on himself and sometimes swing at a bad pitch. But he has learned a better approach and he finished strong.
“I am probably more happy about his outfield play. He has made a 100 percent improvement in the outfield. For me, I know Welty is going to hit. When you can add the defense to the hitting, it can take you a long ways.”
The one stat that Welty clearly would like to improve is his strikeouts total. Along with all the other solid numbers, he led the league by striking out 159 times in 2010.
“I think most of it is mental, just sometimes you can grip the bat too tight at times or try to pull the ball too much. The more I play and as time goes on, I think I’ll get better at that. I’ll learn what I can hit and what I can’t and how to handle different counts. You can always improve.”
Welty plans to try and add 10 or 15 pounds this offseason. He also plans to take some ground balls at first and third base because he feels like he may be tried at one or both positions in the future.