Profile: 6'3" - 195lbs - BT:L - TH:L - 2011 Age: 22
FB 92-94: One of the hardest throwing lefties you'll find, could add movement, improve command (55-70)
CV 70-72: Gets good depth - needs to throw harder with tighter rotation and break. (45-55)
CH 84-85: Can parachute the pitch at times - could be plus. (50-65)
Duffy had an awfully interesting 2010 season, and if you're a Royals fan you're likely well versed on his travails. If you aren't however, know that Duffy had three very successful professional seasons already under his belt heading into the year. He had pitched in the futures game in 2009 and was invited to the Royals Major League camp during spring training as a 21 year old who hadn't even thrown a pitch at the AA level yet. He was clearly a young man on the fast track.
So when he announced that he was taking a leave from baseball, it took a lot of folks by surprise. Officially, the organization's stance was that he needed to reassess his life priorities. I can buy that - I know most 21 year old kids are still very much trying to determine the direction of their lives - even when that direction seems so well laid out. People have personal issues and I commend the Royals for doing the right thing by their player.
Fortunately it all worked out because about two and a half months later Duffy, the teams 3rd round pick in 2007, and one of the minors most tantalizing lefties was back with the team.
Duffy works out of a bit of a wide 3/4 slot and has an explosive delivery, but he finishes surprisingly cleanly and generates impressive velocity that can reach 96-97mph. His fastball is an explosive pitch and has shown good arm-side run, but he doesn't always generate that plus movement consistently yet, but the pitch shows the ability to be a high-end fastball with command, movement, and velocity.
His changeup is probably his best off-speed offering, and at times, it really looks impressive, dying at the end and occasionally making hitters look foolish. If he can get the consistent arm action he needs, it's going to be a very nice complement to his fastball. His curveball is a pitch that will probably work better in the minors than the Majors. It's one thing to fool A ball and AA ball hitters with a slow breaking pitch, but as is, it's a pitch that Major League hitters will be able to read and lay off of quite easily. If he can tighten the pitch up, and add a fair amount of velocity, I could be convinced to change my mind. But I have a hard time projecting it as above MLB average. There is speculation he may be changing to a slider and ditching the curveball for that very reason.
Duffy's talents have been clear from day one. As an 18 year old he signed quickly and managed to throw 37 innings as a rookie and we immediately saw how his hard fastball, and slow curve could dominate younger levels of competition. That trend has continued up the ladder as he's posted a career strikeout rate of 10.5 - and 9.2 between A+ and AA. He has a legitimate ability to miss bats. In addition to his impressive strikeout rates, Duffy has also shown strong command with a 2.9 career walk rate.
He'd be the top pitching prospect on a lot of teams throughout baseball on his fastball alone and I actually think he's a bit under-rated even though he'll crack a lot of/most Top-100 lists. I understand his off-speed stuff isn't elite, and he'll struggle at the MLB level as a result, but I think his upside is higher than most. He kind of feels like he could be a left-handed version of a poor-mans Matt Garza and if he can improve his hook, maybe even a Phil Hughes-type. His downside is maybe Clayton Richard.
Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus.