(video by Kimberly Contreras)
Name: Angel Duno
DOB: 1/10/1994 (age 22)
H/T: 6'0'', 185
How acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent in Dec. 2011
The Beloit Snappers are off to a solid start, thanks in large part to their pitching staff, which currently sports a 3.09 team ERA. One of the Snappers most effective starters is right-hander Angel Duno, who has a 1.80 ERA over his first 35 innings this season.
Duno is making his full-season debut after three years in the Dominican Summer League and a 2015 season split between the Arizona Rookie League and short-season Vermont. Duno sports a career 2.66 ERA in 301 innings. However, it is his career walk rate that jumps out the most on his stat sheet. Over the course of his career, he has walked 52 batters, and that includes the 15 he walked in 29 innings during his first pro season in 2012. Since the start of the 2015 season, Duno has thrown 104 innings and has walked exactly eight batters.
Oakland A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson says there is no secret to Duno's success.
"He comes at you with first pitch strikes, one-one conversions. Just pounds the strike-zone relentlessly," Patterson said. "He's a big-time competitor and both righties and lefties have a difficult time with him."
At 6'0'', Duno is on the shorter side for a right-handed pitcher, and he doesn't have Marcus Stroman velocity. However, Duno makes the most of his three-pitch mix (fastball, slider, change-up) with his nearly flawless execution of all three offerings. Duno is throwing all three pitches at a better than 70% strike-rate. He also has a better than 50% groundball rate so far this season and has allowed just one homerun.
According to Patterson, Duno's best pitch is an improved slider that Patterson calls a "legitimate swing-and-miss offering." Duno has used that weapon to miss significantly more bats this season than he did last year. Through his first seven outings, Duno has a 8.2 K/9, a significant increase over last year's 6.9 K/9.
Duno doesn't have overpowering stuff. His fastball has averaged 90 MPH this season and can touch 92 on occasion. With his build, Duno isn't likely to add much more velocity as he matures, but Patterson says that with Duno's ability to locate and sink his fastball, he has a chance for a "major-league average fastball." The change-up and slider also have a chance to be average to average-plus in the big leagues, giving Duno a chance to be a solid back-end of the rotation candidate for the A's in a few years.
Duno began the year as part of the tandem starting rotation in Beloit. Injuries have returned the healthy Beloit starters to more traditional usage and Duno has taken advantage of the freer reign. Over his last three starts, he has thrown 17.2 innings and has allowed just three runs.
Although Duno is just 22, he will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected by the A's this off-season since he signed before the 2012 season. If Duno continues to have this level of success, he should see some innings in High-A by the end of the year.