Reporting Matt Leon
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By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is no player in the Phillies minor league system, right now, hotter than Lakewood first baseman Chris Duffy.
Heading into Tuesday’s series finale against South Atlantic League foe Savannah, Duffy was 11 for 13 (that’s an .846 average) over his last three games with a double, three home runs, five runs scored and 12 runs batted in. Just for good measure, he also stole his first base of the season.
Offensive success is nothing new for Duffy, and while he obviously isn’t always this hot, he’s just about always been very, very good.
A 26th-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft out of Central Florida, Duffy is hitting .398 in 48 games for the BlueClaws with eight home runs and 46 runs batted in.
“It’s a process,” the 24-year-old Duffy tells KYW Newsradio about his development. “It’s kind of like building a wall. You’ve got to lay one brick at a time and take it one day at a time, and over time, hopefully you’ll have a big wall. That’s the approach I take. Take it one day at time. I feel like I’ve been getting better since I’ve been in pro ball, I’ve learned a lot. I’m trying to work with the coaches as much as possible and learn as much as I can. Every day, it’s an ongoing process.”
When you break down Duffy’s numbers further, they become even more impressive. A left-handed hitter, Duffy is actually hitting .444 against lefties with the BlueCLaws and his power averages are stronger against southpaws (.762 slugging vs LHP/.528 vs. RHP and 1.262 OPS vs. LHP/.997 vs. RHP). He breaks down the keys to his success against left-handers.
“Try to stay in on the ball. Probably lock in a little bit more and think up the middle. I believe I can hit the ball to all fields and use left field and go (the) opposite way well. And I think that’s one of my strengths, to be honest. So it works well against lefties,” he said.
Duffy is also proving to be clutch, hitting .448 with runners in scoring position with Lakewood.
Blue Claws manager Mickey Morandini is happy to be able to pencil Duffy’s name into his line-up every day.
“He’s always been able to hit.” Morandini says. “He hit in college and he hit in the GCL (Gulf Coast League) for a couple of years and he’s hitting here. He’s got a chance to be a very good hitter.
“He swings the bat very well and we know we are giving him a shot to play some first base here and he’s done a pretty good job there. So as long as he continues to hit, ceiling’s probably pretty high.”
Chris Duffy RBI single to right:
Duffy has spent time as a designated hitter in the Phillies minor league system, but when he plays the field, it is first base. Morandini says he thinks if he is going to be a National League player, first base will be his home.
“I think so, he’s a first baseman. I know he played some third base, I think, in college, but I think if he’s going to move up the ladder here, it’s going to be as a first baseman.”
Duffy did spend some time at High-A Clearwater earlier in the season and didn’t have nearly the success he has had with the Low-A BlueClaws (.205 average in 20 games with two home runs and nine RBI). He says it was more of a case of just going through a bit of a slump than it was struggling with the higher competition.
“Baseball is a roller coaster ride. You have ups and you have downs. Over there I was down for a few games. I was going to pick it back up, so I wasn’t really worried about it.”
Chris Duffy RBI single to left:
If he continues his torrid hitting, there is a good chance Duffy could soon be moving back up to Clearwater and beyond. But he is just focusing on getting better.
“I have a lot to improve on in all parts of my game. I’m working on my plate discipline because even though I get a lot of hits, there’s a lot of times I get myself out. That’s going to happen in baseball, I realize that, but sometimes you want to relax and do your best and not get yourself out in those situations. That’s what I’m working on. I think I’ve greatly improved on it, since I’ve been in pro baseball and I’m going to continue to try and do that.”
That sounds like bad news for South Atlantic League pitching.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.