Brewers add lefty Duke to mix

By Jason Arndtbrewers
Brewers Farm Report

Milwaukee announced it agreed to terms with left-hander Zach Duke on a minor-league contract with an invitation to Spring Training Wednesday.

The signing is the second with a left-hander in two weeks after the Brewers agreed with left-hander Brad Mills to help shore up the Nashville Sounds’ bullpen.

Duke, 30, was drafted in the 20th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001 and was named the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America following the 2004 season.

Within his first three professional seasons, he posted a 31-14 record in 63 starts for the Gulf Coast Pirates, South-Atlantic League Hickory Crawdads, Carolina League Lynchburg Hillcats and Double A Altoona Curve.

The Texas native demonstrated success throughout his entire minor league career with a 63-23 record along with a 2.65 ERA in 139 games.

Duke

Duke

However, he has been unable to translate it to Major League success with a 50-76 record and 4.57 ERA in 215 career games.

Duke managed to keep his walk rates steady throughout his nine year Major League career with 296 in 1,086 innings.

Moreover, Duke allowed a high number of hits on an annual basis including a National League leading 255 in 2006 for the Pirates.

Duke earned an All-Star berth with the Pirates in 2009 where he notched three complete games and a career-high 11 victories, but lost 16 in the process.

The Brewers’ newest minor league signing began his career as a starter but his role with teams have diminished to left-handed specialist in the bullpen.

Duke’s last season as an exclusive starter came in 2010 as a member of the Pirates where he accrued an 8-15 record in 29 starts.

Subsequently, he was traded to Arizona following the season for a Player To Be Named Later and was relegated to spot starts for the Diamondbacks.

Duke was 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA for the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple A International League. He additionally picked up two complete games for the Washington Nationals’ Triple A club.

While the left-hander will be given a look by the Major League club in Spring Training, it is more likely he will begin the season with Triple A Nashville.

Milwaukee already has two left-handers in Will Smith and Tom Gorzelanny along with 25-man roster longshot Wei-Chung Wang.

Best case scenario for Duke in making the Opening Day roster is if Milwaukee decides to go with Smith in the starting rotation and a left-hander is needed in the bullpen.

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