READING, Pa. — Despite being out of college for over a year now, former standout Toby Welk is still receiving recognition for his brilliant career at Penn State Berks. The four-year star was recently named to the D3Baseball.com All-Decade First Team, as announced by the organization at the end of August.
For the complete list of D3Baseball.com All-Decade Team, please click here.
Welk, who was humble and gracious throughout his tenure at Berks, said he is appreciative of the national recognition.
"I am extremely honored to be named to the 2010's all decade team," said Welk. "I am alongside some very talented baseball players, some of which are also in professional baseball. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to compete professionally due to my Division III career. The D3 level gave me lifelong friends, lessons, and the ability to do what I love for a living."
As Welk mentioned, there are many successful baseball players over the past decade to play at the D3 level, which has 389 institutions that offer baseball. Those 389 institutions range in size, with Berks leaning toward the smaller size. Welk was still able to garner national recognition throughout his career by the crazy numbers that he put up over his four years.
"The other players from bigger D3 schools get the opportunity to compete for national ranking spots more frequently, and bragging rights as opposed to smaller-school guys like myself," said Welk. "In all honesty, it does not matter where you play. If you put the work in, and prove to yourself, more than anyone else, that you can succeed without limits."
Welk completed his phenomenal career with the Nittany Lions as the career leader in nearly every offensive category. He ranks first all-time at Berks in hits (241), batting average (.433), doubles (53), home runs (34), RBI (201), slugging percentage (.768), and at-bats (557). Welk ranks second in runs scored (165), triples (16), on-base percentage (.508), and games started (149). Among the other members on the All-Decade First Team, Welk had the most career RBIs, 2nd highest batting average, and fifth most home runs.
Welk has a very long and distinguished list of awards from his tenure at Berks. Following his senior season, he was named D3baseball.com National Player of the Year and was an All-America First Team selection for the second year in a row. For the second straight year, Welk was the D3baseball.com Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year and was named to the All-Mid-Atlantic First Team. Welk received NEAC Player of the Year and All-NEAC First Team honors for the third consecutive season.
Last spring, he was the first student-athlete at Berks to be drafted by one of the four major U.S. sports leagues and was just the second in NEAC history when the Baltimore Orioles selected him with the first pick of the 21st round. Once playing professionally, he continued to find success by leading the Class-A Short Season Aberdeen IronBirds with a .344 batting average (62-for-180). In addition, he had four home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 28 RBI, and 22 runs scored, which earned him the IronBirds Team MVP award. It also earned Welk a promotion to the the Delmarva Shorebirds for a playoff push down the stretch. With the Orioles Single A affiliate, Welk finished .250 (8-for-32) with one double, two RBI, and two runs scored.
"I am honored to have received the Aberdeen IronBirds Most Valuable Player for the 2019 season," said Welk. "I cannot describe the feeling knowing that players such as Trey Mancini received the exact same honor. The IronBirds team in 2019 was extremely talented, and to be named the MVP means so much to me."
Welk was advancing through the minors and his path to the MLB was heading in the right direction after his first professional season. However, the calendar switched to 2020, and like so many other people, Welk's career hit a bump.
He and his fellow teammates were working out at spring training in February and March. In that time, his routine involved lifting in the mornings after breakfast, base running drills and defensive work before lunch, followed by offensive work usually involving different variations of batting practice. All this training was gearing up for Welk to begin his second professional season with the Shorebirds.
But he never made it to Delmarva as the pandemic grew and the minor season got canceled. With the season over and no clue of when it would return, Welk needed to keep himself in shape physically and baseball wise without the help of an MLB organization.
"Luckily I have been able to lift with my trainer, Rob Rabena, at Maplezone Sports Institute in Garnet Valley PA," said Welk." Along with myself, there are about 30 other minor league players who train at MSI. The facility is run by my agent, Jeff Randazzo, who opened back up about two months ago with strict COVID restrictions to help keep all of the athletes safe. I have also been lucky enough to have a friend back home with a pitching machine to keep me tuned in for higher velocities when hitting."
Next season is still a mystery at this point for Welk and all the minor league players across the country. But when it is safe to play ball again and a decision is made, Welk said he will be ready to show the world what he is capable of doing on the baseball field. He has been overcoming the odds during his teenage years, college days, and now in the time of chaos with a global pandemic.
"I have been given an outstanding opportunity and the work is far from over," said Welk.