- Full name Daniel Richard Duffy
- Born 12/21/1988 in Goleta, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Cabrillo
- Debut 05/18/2011
Drafted in the 3rd round (96th overall) by the Kansas City Royals in 2007 (signed for $365,000).
View Draft ReportLompoc, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's Central Coast, is best known for its prison and its proximity to Vandenberg Air Force Base, where the Defense Department tests missiles and launches satellites into space. It has never been a baseball hotbed, but Duffy has attracted scouts by the dozen for his starts this year, dominating with an unrefined but powerful repertoire. He has perhaps the best fastball in the state among draft-eligible players, reaching 95 mph and sitting in the 90-93 mph range with his four-seamer. He's somewhat mature in build and has had back issues in his past, and needs to get stronger. Duffy also throws a high-80s two-seamer with good armside run, and has shown ability with both a slider and curveball. His mechanics aren't a thing of beauty, one easy indicator of how much work he has to do. He doesn't command the strike zone or throw a changeup, and he hasn't maintained his velocity deep into games either. Nevertheless, he's a lefty with power stuff who has dominated inferior competition.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After posting a 2.49 ERA in three pro seasons and pitching in the Futures Game in 2009, Duffy surprisingly walked away from the game during spring training in 2010. He had a minor elbow injury that would have sidelined him in April, but he says that wasn't an issue. He returned in June and looked as good as ever, touching 95-97 mph regularly throughout the summer. Duffy often paces himself in the early innings, sitting at 90-92 mph before reaching the mid-90s later in games. His velocity jump sometimes comes with a propensity to overthrow. He generally commands his fastball well and creates deception with a crossfire delivery, though he has gotten better about staying online to the plate. His best secondary pitch is a changeup that's slightly above-average at times, but his feel for it wavers. 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. He has a relatively advanced feel for setting up hitters. Though Duffy has made just seven starts above Class A, he's not that far away from the big leagues. He'll return to Double-A to open 2011 and could reach Kansas City by September.
In a system filled with pitching prospects, Duffy had the best season--while posting the worst numbers of his young career. He led Royals farmhands with a 2.98 ERA, finished second with 125 strikeouts and earned spots in the Futures Game and Carolina- California League all-star game. He's now 19-10, 2.49 with 290 strikeouts in 246 pro innings. Duffy's solid stuff plays up because he does a good job of messing with hitters' timing. His 88-92 mph fastball has good downward plane and seems to get in on opponents before they expect it, while his slow, big-breaking curveball keeps them off fastball. He's not afraid to pitch inside. He improved his delivery by shortening his stride. Duffy's changeup got better last year, but he still hasn't fully embraced it. While most pitchers have to learn to pitch in to hitters, he's learning the effectiveness of a down-and-away changeup. His delivery is less than ideal because he throws across his body and his bottom half isn't always in sync with his upper half. The Royals are working on keeping him centered over the rubber longer. He sometimes struggles to put bad starts behind him. Though he'll pitch the entire 2010 season at age 21, Duffy isn't that far away from the majors. One of the last remaining tests for the potential No. 3 starter is finding out how he handles adversity--because he hasn't encountered any.
Duffy has come a long way since he was a 5-foot-4 high school freshman with a 70- mph fastball. He has dominated the lower levels of the minors, going 10-7, 1.97 with 165 strikeouts in 119 innings. The Royals shut him down in late August because of shoulder discomfort, but he could have pitched in the Midwest League playoffs if they hadn't played it safe. Duffy has a nice fastball for a lefty, sitting at 88-92 mph and touching 94. At times, his curveball is a plus pitch and his changeup rates as slightly above average. He has good mound presence and challenges hitters, throwing strikes and keeping the ball down in the zone. He has shortened his stride since turning pro, allowing him to throw on more of a downhill plane, and he also has fixed a tendency to throw across his body. Like many young pitchers, Duffy is prone to overthrowing when he gets into a jam, costing him command. He'll also get cute and lob up an 85-86 mph fastball at times. He rarely has feel for both of his secondary pitches on the same day, and his curve can get loopy. The Royals haven't had a pair of potential frontline lefties like Mike Montgomery and Duffy in years. With his three-pitch mix and maturity, there's no reason Duffy shouldn't continue to succeed in high Class A in 2009.
After signing for $365,000 as a third-round pick in June, Duffy couldn't have been more dominant in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He struck out 15.2 batters per nine innings, posted a 1.45 ERA and went 37 innings without allowing a homer. Duffy already has an 89-92 mph fastball that tops out at 95, and he should add more velocity as he develops physically and fills out his frame. His curveball has the potential to give him a second plus pitch, while his slider can become solid-average. He hides the ball well in his delivery. Duffy's mechanics are extremely raw and hamper his command. He struggles at times to get extension in his delivery and to repeat his arm slot. He also has a tendency to rush toward the plate. His curveball remains inconsistent, and he doesn't have much of a changeup. Duffy should fit in the middle of a major league rotation, though not any time soon. He could open the season in low Class A but will be held back in extended spring training if he struggles in minor league camp.
Minor League Top Prospects
After posting a 1.97 ERA in his first two pro seasons, Duffy took a big step forward this year in learning to be more economical with his pitches. Rather than trying to make a perfect pitch every time, he pounded the strike zone more efficiently, keeping his pitch counts down and allowing him to work deeper into games. Duffy's fastball has some life, sits in the low 90s and touches 93 mph in the early innings. Later in the game, he'll settle into the 88-92 range. His big-breaking 12-to-6 curveball is an occasional plus pitch that tops out in the mid-70s. He has made progress with his changeup, which is now an average offering with screwball-like action. "I liked the three-pitch mix," an AL scout said, "especially if he can consistently run the fastball into the low-90s." Duffy throws slightly across his body, which puts some excess stress on his arm but also adds some deception that allows his fastball to sneak up on hitters. There's some funkiness in his lower half that occasionally hinders his ability to repeat his delivery, but overall he's relatively solid mechanically, throws strikes and has clean arm action.
Duffy flew somewhat under the radar because he got hit hard in his first three starts after arriving from extended spring training in mid-May, and he missed Burlington's postseason run after getting shut down with mild shoulder discomfort in late August. In between, the 19-year-old was as dominant as any MWL starter, going 8-2, 1.16 with 84 strikeouts in 70 innings. He permitted only one earned run over his final six starts, which included the first six innings of a combined no-hitter against Peoria. Duffy has very good stuff for a young lefthander. His fastball ranges from 88-93 mph, his curveball has the makings of a plus pitch and his changeup showed improvement in his first full pro season. He has plenty of poise, showing no fear of challenging hitters.
Duffy had the best pro debut of any young pitcher in the league, striking out 15.2 batters per nine innings and going 37 innings without allowing a home run. He did it mostly by working off his fastball. The Royals precluded Duffy from throwing his two-seam sinker and his slider, preferring for him to focus on improving the command of his four-seamer and curveball and using his changeup. The Royals also worked on making Duffy's mechanics more consistent and keeping him from rushing through his delivery. He made progress on all fronts. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94, and his curveball at times is a plus pitch. "He got better at repeating his mechanics and maintaining his stuff late in games as the year went on," Royals pitching coach Mark Davis said. "His fastball was firm and live, and he really located down and away well."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the Carolina League in 2009