Duke Welker

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Matthew Scott Welker

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Biographical Information[edit]

Duke Welker was a second-round draft pick.

Welker was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 34th round of the 2004 amateur draft. He had shoulder surgery as a college freshman but the M's still chose him in the 39th round of the 2005 amateur draft. He was 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA as a junior. The Pittsburgh Pirates took him in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft, one round after they chose Danny Moskos; both picks were felt to be overdrafts.

Welker was signed by scout Mike Leuzinger and made his pro debut with the State College Spikes and went 2-2 with a 2.35 ERA. Baseball America ranked him as the #9 prospect in the Pirates chain and #14 in the New York-Penn League (between Jess Todd and Domonic Brown).

In 2008, Welker was just 4-13 with a 5.51 ERA and .307 opponent average for the Hickory Crawdads. He led the Pirates farm system in losses and was one shy of pacing the South Atlantic League. Duke went winless for the 2009 West Virginia Power at 0-11, 5.79 with two saves. He led the Buc chain in defeats and walks (67). He was two losses shy of pacing the SAL.

Moving to the bullpen, the tall hurler started 2010 better with the Power (1-1, 5 Sv, 3.63, 25 K but 24 BB in 22 1/3 IP) before moving up to the Bradenton Marauders (0-1, 3.70 in 20 G, 23 BB in 24 1/3 IP). In 2011, he appeared for the Marauders (3-5, 6 Sv, 2.25, .186 opponent average) and Altoona Curve (1-0, 5.40 in 6 G). He continued his rise of a level per year in 2012, split between the Curve (2-1, 5 Sv, 2.31 in 15 G) and Indianapolis Indians (0-1, 2.27 in 26 G). He was untouchable for the Indians in early 2013 (3-0, 3 H, 1 UER, 8 BB, 20 K in 16 IP) and was called up to the Pirates in early May when James McDonald went on the disabled list. He did not appear for Pittsburgh, though, and was sent back down when Francisco Liriano was activated from the DL. He came back to Pittsburgh in late June and made his belated debut on June 23rd, when he pitched a scoreless inning in relief in a 10-9 win against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Relieving Ryan Reid in the 8th, he got Erick Aybar, Chris Iannetta (via strikeout) and J.B. Shuck in order. Mark Melancon relieved him in the 9th. He made only one more appearance before being sent back to the minors, where he finished the year with Indianapolis with a 3-4 record, 9 saves, a 3.57 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 63 innings. On October 5th, he was sent to the Minnesota Twins as the player to be named later in addition to Alex Presley in the deal that had brought 1B Justin Morneau to Pittsburgh on August 31st. However, the two teams changed their minds a few weeks later, and on November 19th, Welker was sent back to the Bucs in return for P Kris Johnson.


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