Fantasy Baseball Rookie Watch: Will Danny Duffy Be a Viable Option Immediately?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 18, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 12:  World Futures All-Star Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the 2009 XM All-Star Futures Game at Busch Stadium on July 12, 2009 the in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals are stocked with left-handed pitchers in the minor leagues, but it's uncertain of who will emerge as the best of the bunch.

We finally know who will arrive first, however, as Danny Duffy will make his Major League debut today against the ordinarily tough Texas Rangers.  However, with the team’s entire starting outfield currently on the disabled list, the matchup isn’t quite as daunting.

That’s not to say that a lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus is easy, and I am not suggesting that Duffy is a viable option in his debut. 

There are very few, if any, rookies who are recommended in their first start given the virtual unknown surrounding them.

Duffy, however, has been extremely impressive in the minor leagues and has to be tempting to fantasy owners.  The 2007 third round draft pick has gone 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 43 K over 36.0 innings of work in his first taste of Triple-A.

He has shown tremendous strikeout ability at every level since being drafted, with a career K/9 of 10.52.  However, one of the major questions hanging over him could be his maturity or dedication. 

Prior to the 2010 season, Duffy temporarily walked away from the game of baseball.  There was an elbow issue, which could have played a factor, though talk at the time was that it didn’t factor in his decision.

Rob Neyer of ESPN (citing an article from Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star), posted the following quote (click here for Neyer’s article):

“Danny informed us [Tuesday] that his desire is to leave baseball at this time to reassess his life priorities,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo confirmed in a statement released by the club.

“Should Danny decide in the future to return to the game, we will be happy at that time to discuss the possibility.”

Obviously, he ultimately decided to return to the diamond, though the effects were him pitching just 62.1 innings last season.  While he worked 126.2 in 2009, you have to think that the Royals are going to be extremely cautious with him moving forward.  He is still just 22-years old and the team hopes he will be a major factor in the organization moving forward.

That notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see if Duffy’s stuff can translate to Major League success.  Here is a breakdown of his repertoire (with the quotes coming courtesy of Baseball America prior to the season):

  • Fastball – “sitting at 90-92 mph before reaching the mid-90s later in games.”
  • Changeup – “His best secondary pitch is a changeup that’s slightly above average at times, but his feel for it wavers.”
  • Curveball – “His slow curveball has plenty of depth, but he’ll probably switch to a slider that will be a better fit for his three-quarters arm slot.”

Control has never been an issue for him in the past, even though he has only made 14 starts (75.2 innings) above Single-A.  It will be interesting to see if more patient hitters help contribute to fewer strikeouts and more walks (that certainly will be something to watch, as Baseball America was not overly impressed with his secondary stuff). 

He needs to take significant strides there if he wants to thrive against Major League hitters.

Is he a pitcher worth monitoring?  Absolutely.

In deeper formats is he worth stashing?  Without a doubt.

Just don’t expect miracles from the outset.  While he has the potential to become a usable option immediately, there is no guarantee that he sticks in the rotation long-term in 2011.  I wouldn’t do anything dramatic to acquire him, but if you can get him he could be well worth it.

What are your thoughts on Duffy?  How good could he be?  Could he be viable in 2011?

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