The Colorado Rockies announced on Thursday that minor league infielder Colton Welker was suspended for 80 games since he tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is a banned substance.
Welker released a statement himself through the MLBPA after the news was announced.
Welker, 23, was slated to start the season at Triple-A Albuquerque and, if all went well for him in the minors, he had a shot to make his MLB debut with the Rockies sometime this season.
However, with the 80-game suspension, it will knock out two-thirds of the season for him since Triple-A is playing 120 games in 2021. That means his return will likely be around the second weekend of August.
As we all know with baseball and, particularly, with the state of the Rockies right now, teams can change a lot in 80 games. At the major league level, depending on how the Rockies play, shortstop Trevor Story, first baseman C.J. Cron, outfielder Charlie Blackmon, starting pitcher Jon Gray, and reliever Mychal Givens all could be traded since they are entering free agency. (Blackmon is in the final guaranteed year of his four-year contract extension but he has two player options for a combined $31 million.)
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Welker already lost a year of playing time, like all minor leaguers, with the pandemic in 2020 but his chances to show himself at the MLB level in 2021 now have plummeted.
Even when he does return, barring injuries, his chance making the team is minimal. He hasn’t played at the Triple-A level yet so this was going to be a big year for him to show himself at the next level.
Sure, he could make the jump like, for example, Alan Trejo, and completely skip Triple-A but Trejo is a bit different than Welker. Trejo’s defense was always viewed as MLB quality but his bat was further behind.
For Welker, he is not that above-average defender and after not hitting .252/.313/.408 with 10 home runs and 53 RBI in 98 games in Double-A Hartford in 2019, he could see a big adjustment to MLB pitching, especially after not facing pitchers (outside of alternate site games this April) in nearly two years.
The suspension came at the worst time for Welker and for the Rockies and for a guy that has been slipping down the prospect charts in baseball and in the Rockies top prospect list in the last few years, it’s not a good sign to come for the Rockies 4th round pick from 2016.