Pitcher Zach Voelker excited to develop in Iowa baseball program

The Long Beach State transfer has already made waves out of the Hawkeye bullpen.


Madyson Gomez

Iowa pitcher Zach Voelker juggles baseballs during the Iowa men’s baseball media day at Duane Banks Baseball Stadium in Iowa City on February 8, 2023. With many new players on the field, head coach Rick Heller has his sights on Omaha.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

Last season, the Iowa baseball team took advantage of the transfer portal rules implemented in 2018 which allow athletes already in college to be re-recruited to a new program and play the following season.

Iowa pitcher Adam Mazur was a transfer from South Dakota State, and he shined at Iowa in 2022, going 7-3 with a 3.07 ERA and winning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

This season, Iowa has brought in a slew of new transfers and pitcher Zach Voelker, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Long Beach State, has stood out in the early part of the season.

Iowa is Voelker’s third school in four years. The sophomore originally committed to San Joaquin Delta Junior College, but both seasons he was slated to play there were canceled because of COVID-19 precautions.

“My freshman year was the COVID year that got canceled in March, and everyone had the season canceled,” Voelker said. “My sophomore year we came back anticipating having a season but found out we were one of the few counties in the United States that didn’t play.”

After spending two seasons with the Mustangs, the Granite, California, product transferred to Long Beach State before the 2022 season to compete in his first full year as a collegiate hurler.

While with the Dirtbags, Voelker made seven starts and 14 total appearances — throwing to a 6.05 ERA and posting 32 strikeouts in 38 innings of work.

“Long Beach State was a lot of fun,” Voelker said. “I learned a lot and got better there. I am happy with my time there, but I figured there were some things that I wanted as far as development and some changes I wanted to find.”

Voelker entered the transfer portal while competing in the Cape Cod Collegiate Summer Baseball League after Long Beach State’s season was over.

While competing on the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, Voelker produced significantly better numbers than he did with the Dirtbags, posting a 1.97 ERA over 32 innings. He was named an All-Star for the league.

“It was one of the most fun summers, just meeting a lot of new guys and competing every day with them,” Voelker said of his time in Cape Cod. “I learned a lot because there are a ton of big-name guys there who were a lot more talented than me. I talked to everyone, and we learned a lot from each other.”

While on the Harbor Hawks, Voelker said that other players were recruiting him heavily after finding out he was in the transfer portal. One of those players was Hawkeye pitcher Ty Langenberg.

“When I entered the portal, a bunch of guys were asking why I was leaving and tried to get me to come to their school,” Voelker said. “I played summer ball with Ty Langdenberg. I told him what I wanted, and Ty told me about Iowa. It was everything I was looking for.”

“I wanted somewhere with more of an approach analytic-wise because Long Beach didn’t do too much in the analytics department,” Voelker continued. “Also, [I wanted] a more mental game focus, which Iowa is big on both of those.”

Now a Hawkeye, Voelker has started off the season as an asset for the Iowa bullpen. He has thrown four-plus innings in all three of his bullpen appearances, including an outing against Kansas State where he threw 5 ⅔ innings allowing one run.

“It’s pretty early in the season, but Zach has worked really hard,” head coach Rick Heller said. “I think he is a better pitcher than when he got here, He has really improved. It’s really Zach’s work ethic and him wanting to be really good. That’s why he came here to be a part of a program that develops pitching.”