Resuming the trend of pitching prospects is reliever Paul Voelker. The pitcher could be the closer of the future for the Detroit Tigers.
#20 Artie Lewicki #19 Drew Smith #18 Austin Kubitza #17 Josh Turley #16 Montreal Robertson #15 Jairo Labourt #14 Steven Moya #13 Adam Ravenelle #12 Wynton Bernard
The Detroit Tigers have had a multitude of bullpen issues over the past few years. The argument could be made that Detroit would have at least one World Series ring from the past five seasons if the bullpen was stronger.
General manager Al Avila has improved the current team with a number of shrewd acquisitions in the relief pitching department. Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe and Justin Wilson were brought in to shore up the unit.
On paper, the current group is set for the present with a strong bullpen. Detroit could be set up for an even better bullpen in the future thanks to a number of intriguing relief prospects like Drew Smith, Montreal Robertson and Adam Ravenelle. While all three profile as quality relievers, the team’s 11th best prospect may be the best of the bunch.
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A 10th-round pick of the Tigers out of Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas during the 2014 draft, Paul Voelker has the look of a future closer.
Detroit has tended to value hard-throwing pitching prospects, and the team’s former 10th-round pick is no different.
According to MLB.com, Voelker “can touch the upper 90s with his fastball and can sit comfortably in the mid-90s. He complements the heater with a solid hard slider that has good late movement to it.”
The fact that the reliever can mix a blazing fastball with good slider will help him succeed in the Detroit bullpen.
Stats So Far
Voelker has been dominant so far as a professional. During his debut season in 2014, the right-handed pitcher posted a 2.33 ERA and 35 strikeouts (compared to just eight unintentional walks) in only 27 innings. He split the year between rookie-ball and the Connecticut Tigers.
In 2015 the reliever pitched at Single-A, Class A-Advanced and Double-A. He improved upon his ERA from his first season, lowering it to 2.11 in his second go-around. Voelker also upped his work load, jumping from 27 to 55.1 innings pitched. Additionally, the top prospect continued to strike batters out with 63 punch outs.
For his career, Voelker has struck out 10.7 batters per nine innings.
The Detroit Tigers are set up for the long haul with late-inning arms. Paul Voelker could be the team’s long-term closer, or equally dynamic setup reliever, serving as a bridge to fellow prospect Joe Jimenez. Detroit’s bullpen prospects will eventually be a successful part of the team for a long time given the talent in the minor-league system. Expect the 23-year-old Voelker to be at the forefront of that success.