Hard throwers are pretty much the norm in Tigers Drafts. Usually, however, they come with big body frames. When 5-foot-10 Paul Voelker was available in the 10th round with a solid mid-90s fastball, however, Detroit officials felt he was worth a shot to close out the second day of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
Voelker went from a reliever at Dallas Baptist last year into a starting role this spring, posting a 9-4 record and 3.48 ERA in 17 games, while striking out 79 batters over 93 innings. His 42 walks, nine wild pitches and nine hit batters suggest some wildness, but he was able to pitch deep into games for a converted reliever.
The initial plan, according to Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd, is for Voelker to begin his pro career as a starter. However, Chadd is more open than most about moving him into relief.
"I think Voelker might have the best chance of going to the bullpen [out of the starters Detroit has drafted so far], because everything he has plays up a lot out of the 'pen," Chadd said.
Voelker's fastball reportedly tops out at 97 mph, while usually sitting in the mid-90s. He also throws a slower slider and a hard changeup, enough to at least consider him for a potential starting role.
Voelker's big impression came last summer, when he ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the Northwoods League, according to Baseball America. He went into this Draft ranked as the 300th best prospect overall on Baseball America's Top 500.
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.