SALEM, Virginia, 11 September - A night after one ABL player dogpiled with his teammates in celebration of a Minor League Baseball title, another has done the same. Adelaide Bite third baseman Stefan Welch’s Salem Red Sox have won the Carolina League by way of Tuesday night’s 6-4 win, capturing a series sweep over the Potomac Nationals at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
Welch went 1-for-4 in Tuesday night’s Mills Cup-clinching victory, ripping a single while batting cleanup and playing third base. Though he struggled in Salem’s postseason run, going a combined 2-for-19 (.105), Welch was a key piece in the heart of the Red Sox order since being acquired by the Boston organisation in early June.
Tuesday’s victory for Welch, as Monday’s did for Brisbane Bandits pitcher Ryan Searle in the Florida State League, caps off a tumultuous year. Originally signed out of Australia by the New York Mets in 2005, Welch inked a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead of the 2012 season. The Pirates moved him from first base, his position for the entirety of his minor league career, across the diamond to third base. After a rough spring training in 2012, Welch responded with a strong season between the Pirates’ Advanced Class A and Double-A affiliates.
The 2013 season didn’t go as planned for the South Australian who batted just .149 in 29 games with Double-A Altoona and saw his playing time cut drastically. On 6 June, Welch was traded to the Red Sox, and his career rebounded with the deal. Assigned to Salem, Welch took off. In 75 games with the Salem Sox, the 25-year-old batted .292 with ten home runs, 46 runs batted in, and an .885 OPS.
The title is Salem’s first since 2001.
Below are updates on other ABL and Australian players currently in the Minor League Baseball postseason in the US.
International League: Pawtucket 2, Durham 1
Sydneysider Ryan Rowland-Smith’s Pawtucket Red Sox took the first step toward defending their International League championship with a win in Tuesday night’s opener of the best-of-five IL Governors’ Cup Finals. Rowland-Smith earned his second hold of the postseason with an inning of spotless relief in the eighth as the PawSox held on for the road victory. 2011/12 Canberra Cavalry outfielder Kevin Kiermaier went 0-for-3 in the loss for Durham.
California League: Visalia 6, San Jose 5
2012/13 Cavalry outfielder Ryan Stovall was hitless in four at bats, but his Visalia Rawhide forced a decisive game five of their California League semifinal with the San Jose Giants. The winner of Wednesday night’s series finale will move on to the Cal League finals to clash with either Inland Empire or Lancaster.