Pirates Release Duke Welker

JULY 14: The Pirates have released Welker, per the MLB.com transactions page.

JULY 9: The Pirates have designated right-hander Duke Welker for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for infielder Matt Hague, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter).

Welker, 28, underwent Tommy John surgery last month after allowing six runs in 11 innings of work at the Triple-A level this season. After seeing his prospect star fade as a starter in the Pirates’ minor league system, Welker shifted to the bullpen full-time in 2010 and began to experience success. Baseball America ranked him as Pittsburgh’s No. 26 prospect heading into the 2013 season, and he went on to post a 3.57 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 63 innings of work.

Welker was traded to the Twins as a player to be named later in last August’s Justin Morneau trade, but the Twins flipped him back to the Bucs in a swap for left-hander Kris Johnson this offseason. The former second-round pick made a brief cameo with Pittsburgh’s big league club last season, pitching 1 1/3 perfect innings with one strikeout.

The 28-year-old Hague was hitting .267/.363/.456 with 13 homers in 333 plate appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He spent some time with the Pirates in 2012 and batted .229/.270/.257 in 70 trips to the dish and hasn’t made it back to the Majors since. He will be available for tonight’s game with Starling Marte having been placed on the bereavement list, the Pirates announced.

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