LHP Danny Duffy made his first start at Double-A for the season after his brief absence from the game. I was very excited to find out Duffy was starting this game and was sure to take excellent notes.
It was a very hot night. I mowed around 10 AM that day and was drenched in about 30 seconds. Most of you who were outside realize we are in the midst of the Missouri summer which is always very humid. The heat index is supposed to be around 115 today here in SW Missouri and last night it was in the low 90s the whole game. So the heat definitely affected Duffy in his first start at this level.
Duffy struggled just a little with his fastball command which in turn affected everything else. Danny has good armside run to his fastball and it will really play up when he gets back into 100% form. The radar gun had his fastball from 90-93, but you can add 1-2 because Hammons gun is a little slow. His top speed was 95, the pitch after he gave up back-to-back homers. Both on fastballs that he elevated. You could see him fatiguing at this point of the ball game due to the heat. I didn't have a pitch count, but it was in the 4th.
His curveball was really good. You could see that it has room to improve as well as he wasn't really sharp with it. The pitch broke hard and a lot of hitters just gave up on it. Velocity was around 76-80. Good speeds to compliment his fastball. Once he gets back to 100%, that curve will buckle a lot of hitters.
The change was another good pitch. He did a good job taking velocity off the FB with the change sitting around 80-84. It has some armside run to it and it's really hard to pick up. Again, he struggled a little with command on this pitch but made will make it work.
The best hitter he faced was Cardinals rehabbing 3B David Freese. In the first AB, Duffy walked him on a full count fastball that I thought was a strike. So did Manny Pina as he sat and held the ball for a few seconds. His second AB Duffy K'd Freese on a good series of pitches. And his 3rd AB Freese hit a line drive off the right center field wall for a double. Freese also seemed to pull up rounding third later in the inning with a hamstring. He grabbed the leg and the trainer came out... not good for the Cards.
With his combination and movement on pitches, I would make a very aggressive comparison between Danny Duffy and Barry Zito. Although the curve may not be as good, the fastball is a little stronger. What makes Zito a stud though is his change up and I saw the same type of change from Duffy. Zito is his ceiling, and not sure what the lower level is. But if he gets anything close to Zito, I will be very excited.
What I want you to see from this series of pictures is his basic motion and release. Duffy does a very good job keeping his weight back until he is ready to transfer that stored energy into kinetic energy. You can see Duffy sitting on top of his back leg getting his body in position to drive to the plate. He already has the ball out of his glove which to me means he's had some problems in the past with the timing of his hands. By having the ball already out at this point, he eliminates those issues. Duffy is still sitting on his back leg as his body starts to move forward. His front arm is moving directly to his target which is something I pound on McClure for not doing a good job with at the MLB level. This is what Soria is struggling with and it's killing his control. The final picture in the series you can see that Duffy's chest is almost on top of his knee and his knee is almost to the 90 degree mark. This puts him in perfect position to be on top of that knee at release. You compare this to the picture I posted of O'Sullivan the other day when I talked about releasing out in front and top of that knee, and Duffy is picture perfect. I didn't get a picture of him releasing the ball, but you can imagine from where he is in that last photo and move him forward just a split second and he is in perfect position. (But I can't get the pictures to load, so I'm just going to post them as comments. Someone teach me.)