Mar 1, 2013; Sarasota, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Duke Welker throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the bottom of the sixth inning of a spring training game at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates promote rookie Duke Welker, option Josh Harrison

There were whispers about it yesterday, but the Pittsburgh Pirates made it official on Wednesday by promoting rookie reliever Duke Welker to the big club.

February 17, 2013; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Duke Welker (61) poses for photo day at Pirate City. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Welker’s spot on the 25-man roster was created by the Pirates optioning utility infielder Josh Harrison back to the minors. Harrison was promoted on Tuesday, but sent down one day later, mostly due to the fact that Jose Tabata is healthy enough to play and the Bucs don’t really need yet another utility infielder.

The 6’7″ right-handed reliever has excelled in the minors after being converted from a starter to a late-innings reliever. The 27-year old can throw 98 mph and went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA for Class AAA Indianapolis, facing 56 batters and allowing only three hits for the Indians this season.

Welker was drafted in the second round of 2007 Amateur Draft by the Pirates, so it’s nice to see him finally get a shot in the majors. That being said, I wouldn’t expect him to get much of a look which is disappointing.

He has nasty stuff that should translate well to the majors, but with Francisco Liriano likely to return this weekend, a roster spot will be needed for him and unfortunately Welker could be the guy to go.

The Pirates announced that Jeanmar Gomez will get another stat on Sunday and Liriano is likely to be promoted on Saturday, which means there’s a good chance that Welker won’t even get to make an appearance.

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Tags: Duke Welker Josh Harrison Pittsburgh Pirates

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