Duke Welker was the Pirates’ 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft out of Arkansas. As he entered the system, big expectations were put on his shoulders as someone who should become one of the club’s top prospects. However, arm injuries and setbacks have derailed those plans and Welker has been forced into a relief role.
In that role, though, he has flourished. Due to his age, you won’t find him on any top prospects lists. However, it is hard to totally ignore someone who is all of a sudden throwing the ball in the mid to high 90′s and now consistently getting batters out.
So far this year, Welker has a 2.34 ERA over 50 innings for Bradenton. In those 50 innings, he has struck out 38 and walked 25. What those peripherals mean is he still has yet to harness his pitches, so it will be interesting to see what he does next year when he makes the jump to AA.
Welker faced 3 batters the game I saw him pitch as he tossed a scoreless inning of relief. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a gun at Brighthouse Field, so I have no idea where his velocity was. But, here are the 3 batters he faced: