BASEBALL: Bear River alum signs with Angels organization
When Zach Welz donned cardinal and gray as a member of the Bear River High School baseball team, he never dreamed he would one day get paid to play the sport he loves. That dream came a little later in his career. Then that dream came true on Sunday.
After two years playing at Solano Community College, and two years roaming the outfield for Texas Southern University, Welz signed his first professional baseball contract with the Los Angeles Angels organization Sunday and has joined their rookie team in Arizona. TSUSports.com was the first to report the signing.
Welz, a 2011 Bear River graduate, told TSUSports.com that his big league dreams didn’t start until his freshmen year of college. Now, four years removed from his freshmen season, his dream has materialized into reality.
Wednesday was Welz’s first active day with the team, but he didn’t see any playing time. Welz said in a phone interview, he hopes to get on the field at some point in the near future.
Welz’s contract is a 7-year deal, but the team has the right to cut Welz at any time, he said. Welz, who has always had to prove himself to critics and doubters, said that’s fine by him.
“My work ethic is the reason I’ve made it this far,” he said. “I’m always working hard, and trying to get guys to work with me before and after practice. I’ve always had the desire to be as good as I can be.”
That desire kept Welz motivated to keep training after going undrafted in the recent MLB draft. Leading up to the draft, Welz had been in contact with a few teams who expressed interest in him, but his name was never called. Welz would later workout for the Braves, Brewers and Rays organizations, but never heard back. Resigned to try and catch on with an independent team, Welz received a glimmer of hope before heading back from Texas to California, Welz ran into Antonio Bassett, a trainer at TSU, who told him not to give up. A few days later, while Welz was working with Bassett, they ran into former MLB player Alex Cintron, who invited Welz to a private tryout July 31.
For three weeks leading up to the private tryout Welz trained with Bassett, shaving time off his 60-yard dash and tightening his skills all around.
“On the day of the tryout, I ran my fastest 60-yard dash ever at 6.40 seconds,” Welz told TSUSports.com. “I threw 94 mph from the outfield. I took two rounds of batting practice, and the Angels signed me right on the spot. They told me I had the tools to do lots of great things at the professional level.”
While at Bear River, Welz was a three-year varsity player. In his senior year of high school baseball, he batted .313 and helped the Bruins make the playoffs. After two seasons at Solano Community College, Welz transferred to Texas Southern University. In his senior year at TSU, the 6-foot, 1-inch, Welz started 48 of the teams 50 games, playing mostly in centerfield. He batted leadoff, hitting .281 with a .390 on base percentage. Welz also stole 22 bases, had 28 RBIs and led the team with five home runs in his senior campaign. Texas Southern University went on to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament and Welz was named the SWAC Tourney MVP.
There were many coaches and supporters that helped Welz get to where he is now, he said, thanking his Bear River coaches Rob Kramer, Darhol Ennis and Phil Pitts, college coaches at Solano Scott Stover and Kody Keroher, TSU coaches Ehren Moreno and Michael Robertson as well as Bassett, Cintron, and of course his parents Taylor Welz and Rhonda Welz.
Zach said while growing up, he was a big New York Yankees fan, and didn’t give the Angels much thought. That has since changed.
“I always kind of liked the Angels because they were from California,” said Welz. “But, I was never a big Angels fan — until now.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. TSUSports.com contributed to this report.
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