How Will Duke Welker Contribute To Minnesota Twins?

Derick Hingle – USA Today Sports

When the Minnesota Twins traded Justin Morneau on Aug. 31, they received Alex Presley from the Pittsburgh Pirates and either cash or a player to be named later. Well, the wait is over, as that player has officially been named.

On Oct. 5, the Twins acquired Duke Welker from the Pirates and completed the Morneau deal. Welker is a 27-year-old pitcher from Kirkland, WA with only two major league games under his belt.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander spent the majority of his time in the Pirates organization with the Triple A Indianapolis Indians, where he maintained a 3.57 ERA in 2013. Welker, a relief pitcher, was ranked No. 26 in the Pirates’ system at the beginning of the 2013 season. Originally selected second round in 2007, Welker’s success has been hindered by injury since being drafted.

Welker will hopefully be able to contribute to the Twins’ bullpen, the only part of the depth chart that experienced some success in the 2013 season.

While the best case scenario is that Welker turns out to be a dominating force on the mound, it’s really too soon to be sure of his talent. Welker has very little major league experience, though he has posted an average ERA of 3.14 in two seasons at the Triple A level.

With seven seasons in the minor leagues, Welker is likely itching to be a regular on the big stage. It will be interesting to see if the Twins give him a shot at it right out, or if they follow suit with the Pirates and wait for him to show promise in the minors before calling him up.

There’s a decent chance Welker will just turn out to be another footnote in the aftermath of the Morneau trade; obtaining cash from Pittsburgh may have been more beneficial to the Twins in the long run. Minnesota has such a high spending budget for the 2014 season already, and increasing that dollar amount may have further encouraged general manager Terry Ryan to look to free agency to improve the roster.

While it’s possible Welker could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, the Twins still need to pull in some proven talent if they hope to find success in the 2014 season. Without experienced veterans on the roster, Minnesota will again flounder by continuing to utilize players who are relatively untested at the major league level.

Caroline Ponessa is a Minnesota Twins writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter @RantCaroline

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