Stefan Robert Welch
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 192 lbs.
Stefan Welch is a minor league infielder. His father Darren Welch played in the Olympics. Stefan is the brother-in-law of ABL player Ben Lodge. There is some uncertainty regarding his place of birth, as, according to 2008 Mets Media Guide, e.g., he was born in Alice Springs, whereas MILB.com and others list Adelaide, South Australia instead.
In 2005, Welch was signed by the New York Mets after being scouted by Tony Harris. In the 2006 Claxton Shield, he was 0 for 1 with 3 walks for South Australia. He played for Australia in the 2006 World Junior Championship. He hit .167/.214/.208 in the 2007 Claxton Shield. He made his US debut in 2007, batting .288/.346/.353 in 36 games for the GCL Mets. In 2008, he batted .380/.415/.500 in the Claxton Shield.
In 2008, Stefan split time between the Kingsport Mets (.281/.316/.447 with 8 triples in 63 G) and the Savannah Sand Gnats (5 for 19, 2B, HR, 2 BB). The corner infielder led the Appalachian League in triples. He was on Australia's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic and came into one game as a defensive sub but did not bat in the Classic.
He split 2009 between Savannah and the St. Lucie Mets, hitting .266/.327/.396 with seven home runs and 47 RBI in 82 games. In the 2009 Baseball World Cup, he was Australia's starting first baseman and hit .254/.333/.542 with 7 doubles, 4 homers, 11 runs and 12 RBI in 15 games. He was 4 for 6 with 3 runs, 3 RBI and a homer (off Leoš Kubát) in a win over the Czech national team, cracked a three-run dinger off Andley Simmons among five RBI in a rout of the Netherlands Antilles), homered off Puerto Rico's Alex Woodson and took Dennis Neuman deep in a 4-1 win over the Dutch national team in the 5th/6th place game. He tied Luke Hughes and Tim Kennelly for the team lead in home runs as the Aussies got their best finish in a Baseball World Cup.
In the 2009/2010 Claxton Shield, he hit .253/.337/.390. With St. Lucie in 2010, he hit .256/.325/.395 with eight home runs and 68 RBI in 133 games. The Australian Baseball League was revived that winter and he hit .201/.298/.383 for the Adelaide Bite but fielded .958 at 3B and went deep 7 times to tie for 5th in the league in long balls. In 2011, also with St. Lucie, he hit .271/.361/.438 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in 129 games. He was 7th in the Mets farm chain in both homers and walks (57). He led Florida State League first basemen in fielding percentage (.998) and double plays (107).
Welch was back in the Green and Gold for the 2011 Baseball World Cup, starting at 1B and hitting cleanup. He hit .250/.280/.354 with a team-high 11 RBI in 12 games, fielding .990. He drove in four in the 5-4 win over host Panama that got Australia into the 5th/6th place game after a 0-3 start. They won (he was 1 for 4 with a steal) to repeat their 5th-place finish of 2009. In somewhat limited time for Adelaide that winter, he batted .279/.357/.558.
Moving to the Pittsburgh Pirates chain as a free agent, he split 2012 between the Bradenton Marauders (.265/.320/.429 in 61 G) and Altoona Curve (.266/.359/.402 in 67 G). In the 2012-2013 ABL, he produced at a .247/.342/.443 clip for Adelaide, tying Ryan Stovall and Jeremy Barnes for 4th in the loop in home runs (7) and tying Mitch Dening and Barnes for 2nd in RBI (32). He split the Gold Glove Award (given league-wide, not position-specific) with Allan de San Miguel.
He provided almost all of Australia's offense in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, homering off Yao-Hsun Yang in the opening loss to Taiwan and doubling off David Bergman then coming home on a Brad Harman hit in their loss to the Dutch national team; those were the only two runs for Australia in three games. His 8 total bases led Australia, three over Mike Walker.
Welch opened 2013 slowly with Altoona (.149/.250/.216 in 29 G) and was traded to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations. He bounced back after the deal, hitting .292/.409/.476 in 75 games for the Salem Red Sox. He only hit one homer that winter for the Bite, batting .245/.388/.382. He hit only .222/.336/.360 for the 2014 Portland Sea Dogs with 8 homers, though he fielded .997 at first, to end his time in the US minors, peaking at AA.
He rebounded in the winter to .307/.393/.500 with 7 HR and 31 RBI in 39 G for Adelaide. He was 10th in the 2014-2015 ABL in average, tied for 9th in OPS though he missed the top 10 in both OBP and slugging, ranked 10th in home runs and tied David Kandilas and de San Miguel for 6th in RBI. In 2015-2016, he was at .266/.405/.410 for the Bite. He was 6th in the ABL in OBP, between Tanner Vavra and Riley Unroe.
Once again Australia's cleanup man and first baseman in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in February 2016, he hit .417/.462/.500 with three runs and three RBI in three games. He drove in Brad Harman with Australia's first run as they won the pool to advance to the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He tied for 4th in the Sydney pool in runs, tied for 6th in RBI and tied for 5th in hits (5).
- Flintoff & Dunn Australian Baseball Almanac
- 2008 Mets Media Guide
- Old IBAF website
- Australian Baseball League
- World Baseball Classic
- 2012 Baseball Almanac
- Australian Baseball Federation