The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled relief pitcher Duke Welker from Triple-A Indianapolis, clearing space for the right-hander by optioning Josh Harrison to the minors, the team announced on Wednesday.
Welker is receiving the first call-up to the big leagues in his professional career. The 27 year-old has toiled in the minor leagues for six seasons after being drafted out of college in the second round of the 2007 draft.
The former Arkansas Razorback spent the first few seasons in the minor-leagues as a starting pitcher, but switched to the bullpen in 2009 after posting a 5-run ERA as a starter in the low minors. Welker did not start to flourish in that role until 2011, but has advanced his way up through the Pittsburgh farm system since then.
The reliever's best pitch is a two-seam fastball that he consistently places in the mid-90's. He uses a slider to keep hitters off-balance, but the pitch is only considered average.
Welker has shown the ability to strike people out in the bullpen, as he fanned 20 batters in 16 innings pitched for Triple-A Indianapolis. He has also battled his command, walking 4.5 hitters per nine innings.
Harrison had a brief stay with the Pittsburgh Pirates, as he was recalled by the Pirates on May 1st. The utility man only made the team as an insurance policy for Jose Tabata, who was struggling with a hamsting issue.