SF Giants add corner infielder in underhand Rockies waiver request

The SF Giants made a move they’ve done a few times in recent years and even profited from it. On Friday, Colorado Rockies cornerman Colton Welker was picked up and immediately placed on the 60-day injured list.

San Francisco needed a spot on the open roster to make such a move, so Thairo Estrada was activated from the COVID list while Tommy LaStella was placed on it. Placing a player on the COVID roster opens up a 40-man roster spot, so the Giants used it to claim Welker, recall him, and place him on the 60-day injured list after undergoing shoulder surgery from end of season.

If this maneuver sounds familiar, it’s basically because they’ve done it in the past with Luis González
, Sam Delplaneand Darien Nunez. This allows Welker to rack up service time and receive major league pay while recovering from surgery.

The Rockies opted out of that when they nominated him for assignment earlier this week. The Giants have plenty of financial flexibility to make this type of move, but it’s a move designed for 2023.

Welker was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft by the Rockies from Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He was often considered one of the Rockies’ top prospects and even one of baseball’s top prospects, ranking No. 95 according to MLB.Com.

In six minor-league seasons, the right-hander batted a .309/.364/.471 line with a 7.9 percent walk rate against a 17.5 percent strikeout rate. He thrived against Triple-A pitchers, posting an .879 OPS with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 143 plate appearances.

Welker made his Rockies debut in 2021 where he recorded seven hits on 37 at bats. Welker’s development was stunted by injuries as well as an 80-game PED suspension and a canceled minor league season in 2020.

He’s played a total of 62 games between the minors and the majors since the start of 2020, so he’s still relatively light on professional experience for a player who was drafted in 2016. Despite the limited action, Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs loves Welker’s bestselling tool. :

“”It’s another perspective with a water-carrying striking tool in this system, as Welker has a nice feel for contact on all courts and covers the entire strike zone. He has a long, slow, well-balanced leg kick and is excellent at diving and hitting throws away from him the other way. He stays inside the baseball and works center and right/center field most of the time, only really igniting overhanging broken balls with pulling power.

– Eric Longenhagen

The 24-year-old prospect didn’t show a ton of power as he eclipsed the 10-home run just twice as a pro. Welker spent a lot of time at third base, but he’ll need to hit a high average to stick.

It’s a move designed for next season in a position where the Giants may have to start looking for potential replacements. The cost is minimal, but if he performs something like Luis González in 2022, it can result in a handsome reward.

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