The way the Marlins are blowing through their bullpen, it is no wonder they decided to call up one of their better pitching prospects – but it isn’t Chris Volstad. Instead, it is Ryan Tucker who is being called up from AA Carolina to make his MLB debut.
With the bullpen heavily taxed with innings – Burke Badenhop had to come in and pick up some innings tonight against the Reds in the Marlins dramatic win – the Marlins had to make a move. Besides, why have three catchers anyway?
Tucker wasn’t just selected over Volstad because of Volstad’s recent injury concerns, but also because he is having a phenomenal season at Carolina. In 70.0 IP he has 62 Ks and only 27 BBs. He is sporting a svelte 1.41 ERA. The kid has an electric fastball, rated the best in the organization, a pretty good changeup and is now showing consistent command of his slider. In fact, that seemed to be the barometer for his maturity as a professional – his command of his third pitch.
Tucker was drafted 34th overall in the 2005 draft; a draft the Marlins acquired extra picks because of compensation for the departing Carl Pavano and Armando Benitez. Five of the first 44 draft picks belonged to the Marlins that season and they used every single one on pitching. Chris Volstad (16th overall) was followed by Tucker, who came from Temple City High in California.
While in high school, Tucker set a school record 112 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched as a senior. This season, it has been Tucker who has quietly turned heads and has risen to the top of his draft class.
In fact, it is the Marlins AA rotation at Carolina that is drawing a lot of rave reviews from scouts and baseball insiders – they have been dubbed the best rotation in the minor leagues. Baseball America has Tucker ranked 3rd in the Marlins organization for starting pitching prospects behind Volstad and Brett Sinkbeil. Yet Baseball America also has Tucker pegged for the closer’s role and he was expected to arrive in 2011. Looks like everything is going ahead of schedule.