Who: Daniel Richard Duffy
DOB: 12/21/1988, Lompoc, California
Weight: 195 lb
Acquired: 2007 Draft – 3rd Round
~ Baseball America: #7
~ Royals Review #7
~ Kevin Goldstein: #7
~ John Sickels: #4 B+
~ Royals Prospects: #8
~ 2010 Kings of Kauffman Rankings: #5
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||2||4||1.57||13||46.0||18||73||1.043||5.9||0.0||3.5||14.3||4.06|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||9||3||2.94||27||140.2||48||143||1.166||7.4||0.5||3.1||9.1||2.98|
|A (1 season)||A||8||4||2.20||17||81.2||25||102||0.992||6.2||0.4||2.8||11.2||4.08|
|AA (1 season)||AA||5||2||2.95||7||39.2||9||41||1.185||8.6||0.7||2.0||9.3||4.56|
Danny Duffy has been hovering at the top of the Royals prospect lists since being drafted in 2007. Since, he’s seen Mike Montgomery, Chris Dwyer and John Lamb all get drafted and join him as top-10 prospects as the Royals assemble a Justice League of left-handed starters to take on the Legion of Doom that is the AL Central.
Through his first three seasons, Duffy breezed through the minors, with his worst season being a 2.98 ERA and 1.176 WHIP in Wilmington. BUST!
In all seriousness, while Duffy’s performance on the field looked easy, off the field, he had his difficulties. With the Royals citing a desire to “reassess life priorities,” Duffy took a hiatus from the game. Out of nowhere, one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in baseball was walking away from it all. The Royals had been in the situation before with Zack Greinke and allowed Duffy time and space to take a full inventory as a person.
That makes it all the better that he decided to return just as suddenly as he’d left. There hasn’t been a clear explanation that I’ve seen for the brief leave, but perhaps it was concern over a stiff elbow, the first real setback he’d had at any point as a pro. Most likely it’s just one of those things – a 21 -year-old taking a step back to make sure of what he’s getting into.
After coming back, he got some conditioning work from some starts in the rookie leagues and in Wilmington before making it to Northwest Arkansas where he’d belonged. He didn’t seem to miss a beat, putting up solid rate stats and a 2.95 ERA in limited action.
Duffy went on to pitch in Arizona this fall and got in some more work, though he got hit pretty hard and was a little more wild than usual. Weighing his 3.5 seasons of work against 15.2 innings in the AFL doesn’t make me concerned at all and his strikeout rate and batting average against were both strong – it just seems he may have given up more flyballs that went for hits to me.
There’s a good reason Duffy’s been one of the top pitchers in the Royals system over the last few years. He’s a hard throwing lefty who can hit 97 with his fastball and his 3/4 delivery puts a bit of movement on it as well. He’s mostly a fastball-curve-changeup pitcher, but may be adding a slider to replace his curveball, which he can sometimes leave up in the zone. His changeup is developing and could be a plus pitch in the future.
Before he’d been drafted, there were reports that he could lose focus at times on the mound to where he’d try to overdo it to make up for a hit or a walk. That might be a tiny leak where here and there he gives up a bigger inning because he’s letting the game dictate how he approaches hitters. He’s probably going to start the season in Double A to keep working against that level before a promotion to Triple A this summer. He’s currently in camp with the Royals and there are rumblings that he’ll get a look as a potential player out of spring training, but it’s pretty unlikely still. The Royals don’t need to make that jump yet.
Once he does, though, his velocity and assortment of pitches could make him a solid starter for a long time. He may not put much more on his 6’3″ 195 lb frame, but he’s already throwing hard enough that he doesn’t have to add much anyway. One scouting report compares him to Cole Hamels of the Phillies and that makes sense to me. Duffy’s a guy who could carry a rotation if he had to, but fits in better as a second or maybe third starter.
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