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BSN Exclusive: Ramos and Welker highlight Rockies' Arizona Fall League roster

Patrick Lyons Avatar
September 2, 2019

 

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball released the rosters for the six-team Arizona Fall League, the premier extended-season league for all 30 MLB team’s top prospects. 

The Salt River Rafters have six Colorado Rockies representatives so far, with room for two more pitchers to eventually be added. 

Only 1B Roberto Ramos is at Triple-A, while the other five players are currently members of the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats: RHP Ashton Goudeau, RHP Alexander Guillen, C Brian Serven, 2B Bret Boswell, and 3B Colton Welker.

The quality of play for all the Rockies’ Rafters may decide whether they are protected on the 40-man roster or left exposed for another team to poach in December’s Rule 5 Draft; only Bret Boswell is ineligible to be a 2019 selection.

Ramos, known as the Mariachi Masher, had a career year with the Albuquerque Isotopes, batted .309 with 30 home runs and 105 runs batted in. While every batter has benefited from the hitting paradise of the Pacific Coast League, this is not the first time the 24-year-old has been so explosive at the plate. In 2018, Ramos launched 32 long balls, homering more frequently in the hitter-neutral Double-A Eastern League during the second half than at the more hitter-friendly High-A Lancaster in the first half.

“He’s a really good hitter, all-around, uses the whole field,” ‘Topes teammate Dom Nuñez said of Ramos. “A lot of power. I was really impressed watching him for a whole season.”

At 6’5”, 220 pounds, the glove-play of the Mexico-born infielder will almost certainly be the only thing preventing Ramos from getting an opportunity in the big leagues somewhere.

Sam Howard, reliever for both Albuquerque and Colorado in 2019, likes what he saw from the 2014 16th round selection. “I think he did a good job defensively,” praised Howard. “I’ve seen him make a few good plays on balls hit down the line. When he’s holding a runner on first and you have a ground ball hit that way, he turns two. I think he did a pretty good job, in my opinion, of playing first base defensively.”

The inclusion of Ramos is particularly interesting because it could nullify any speculation as to whether the power hitter will get promoted to the Rockies this month. Should Colorado change direction and give Ramos a chance in the majors, another purple prospect would be selected for the Rafters’ roster.

One of the most intriguing players in the organization is third baseman Colton Welker. The 2016 fourth round selection out of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School saw a dip in production this season hitting below .300 for the first time in his four-year career. At only 21-years-old, the future is still incredibly bright for Welker.

“For me, I mean, I’m a young guy, so doubles turn into home runs as you get older,” said Welker in February during his first big league Spring Training camp. “People that know baseball, guys like Machado can hit a ton of home runs coming up. Miguel Cabrera. They were gap-to-gap guys, and now they’re 25, 28, 30-years-old and hitting 30 or more home runs in the big leagues. I hope to follow their steps for that. I mean definitely, I think doubles translate to homers as you get older.”

Named to 2019 Eastern League All-Star team, Welker is listed as the second-best Colorado Rockies prospect by MLB Pipeline. Though he batted .252 with 10 home runs and 53 runs batted in, Welker’s offensive output hasn’t been overmatched as the Eastern League batting champ didn’t even hit over .300 for the season; .297 leads the league with .287 as the next best.

Infielder Bret Boswell also started his year at the Salt River Fields complex hot off of a huge 2018. After 97 games as one of the most productive Asheville Tourists players, the 2017 eighth rounder continued to produce at a high rate after a promotion to High-A, smashing ten homers in just thirty games with the Lancaster JetHawks.

“They called me the day before Christmas, so it was a good present,” said Boswell of his invitation to his first big league camp. “I was not expecting to get the invite after the first year. Getting that and being able to be around all these guys, getting to work with all the big league coaches, it’s huge. A huge advantage.”

Though listed as the Rockies #26 overall prospect in 2019 by MLB Pipeline, he’s clearly been tabbed as a player the organization values. In 2019, Boswell added an outfielder’s mitt to his arsenal, playing 20 games in center field after a career predominantly as a second baseman moonlighting as a third baseman.

“When we got to Asheville, we didn’t really have a third baseman,” he said of the initial transition away from second base. “They rotated all of us at the beginning and stuck me out there mostly. It was fun. You don’t really have time to react, so it’s just boom-boom-boom. You either make the play or not. Then you bounce back to second base and it’s kind of relaxing. It was a nice transition to play both.”

Starting pitcher Ashton Goudeau was a shrewd pickup this offseason after being released by the Seattle Mariners this offseason. Drafted in the 27th round by the Kansas City Royals in 2012, the 27-year-old from Missouri was dealt to Seattle at the start of the 2018 season and began the year in Triple-A before pitching to an 8.20 ERA during 37 innings as a reliever before being sent down to Double-A, where he had much more success as a starter. 

In 2019 for Hartford, it all clicked and Goudeau put together an impressive season. His 2.07 ERA ranks as the second-best in Yard Goats history for a single season starting pitcher behind only Yency Almonte (2.00, 2017). He also established a franchise record with 26 consecutive scoreless innings between April 19-May 7 and set a franchise record for 12 strikeouts on June 5 against the Yankees affiliate Trenton. 

Since he missed more than two months due to injury, limiting his totals innings to 78.1, he’ll be able to add close to 30 more innings in Arizona should everything go to plan. 

RHP Alexander Guillen is an international signing out of the Dominican Republic for $360,000 in 2013. The 27-year-old reliever was named to 2019 Eastern League All-Star team, his second consecutive selection after a 2018 California League nod. 

In 2018, he ranked second in CAL in appearances and third with an 11.22 strikeouts-per-nine. While he hasn’t served as a closer since 2016-17, he has seen his strikeout-to-walk ratio increase consistently as his ability to miss bats while throwing strikes has aided development.

Catcher Brian Serven was 5th round pick in 2016 out of Arizona State who has progressed to a new level each season. He’s a defense-first catcher that spent some time in the big league camp this spring working with the catching unit under the guise of the Rockies’ coaching staff.

“We saw Brian in Spring Training,” manager Bud Black added about the 2018 MiLB Organization All-Star. “I thought he did a nice job of acclimating himself overall at big league camp. He worked hard and did a lot of nice work with Mike Redmond. Some of the things we talked about were target, receiving, block, throw. There was marked improvement this year. His game calling, again, marked improvement. He’s making great strides.”

In addition to the Rockies prospects, members of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, and Tampa Bay Rays comprise the Salt River Rafters’ roster.

Other players of note for the Rafters include Twins’ 2017 1st overall pick SS Royce Lewis (ranked seventh best prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline) and OF Alex Kirilloff (16th ranked), Rays’ RHP Shane Baz (93rd ranked), and DBacks’ 1B/OF Seth Beer (97th).

Arizona Fall League begins on September 18, three weeks earlier than in years past in order to minimize downtime between the end of the regular minor league season, which finishes for most leagues on Labor Day while the Pioneer League continues through September 7. 

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