Royals lefthander Danny Duffy has left spring training after informing the team that he is quitting baseball.
A third-round pick in 2007 out of a Lompoc, Calif. high school, Duffy was ranked as the organization's No. 8 prospect heading into the 2010 season. No Royals pitcher and few prospects in baseball have had more success over the past three seasons—was 19-10, 2.49 in 246 minor league innings with 290 strikeouts. The lefthander was selected to play in the 2009 Futures Game and was considered one of the Royals' pitching prospects closest to the majors–he was expected to begin the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Duffy, 21, had been shut down for much of spring training with elbow stiffness, but it is unclear if that had anything to do with his decision. Messages left with Duffy have not been returned.
In a statement released by the Royals, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo left the door open for Duffy's potential return in the future.
"Danny informed us yesterday that his desire is to leave baseball at this time to reassess his life priorities. Should Danny decide in the future to return to the game, we will be happy at that time to discuss the possibility."
The Royals have dealt with a similar situation before—Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, whose career was nearly halted by social anxiety disorder and depression in 2005-2006. Greinke took time off but never fully walked away from the game. The Royals hope Duffy's situation has a similarly happy ending.
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