Danny Duffy returns to baseball

The Royals on Wednesday morning announced that lefthander Danny Duffy has reported to extended spring training and will resume his baseball career. The highly-touted 21-year-old prospect left spring training in late March, citing a need to reassess his life priorities.

Danny Duffy was selected in the third round of the 2007 draft out of Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, California, and he signed quickly for $365,000. He opened his professional baseball career that summer with the Arizona Royals, dominating the Arizona League with a 1.45 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 37.1 innings pitched.

In 2008, Duffy was assigned to the Low-A Burlington, where he spent the entire season. He made 17 starts for the Bees, compiling an 8-4 record with a sparkling 2.20 ERA. In 81.2 innings pitched, he fanned 102 Midwest League hitters while holding them to a cumulative .193 batting average. Following that season, Royals Corner ranked him as the organization's eighth-best prospect.

The young southpaw was assigned to Wilmington last season, and he spent the entire year with the Blue Rocks. Despite being one of the youngest players in the league, Duffy dominated, going 9-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 126.2 innings pitched. He was named to the Carolina League All-Star team, and he also received the honor of representing the organization in the Futures Game during the Major League All-Star festivities. Royals Corner ranked him as the system's sixth-best prospect heading into this season.

The Royals invited Duffy to Major League spring training, but he suffered some elbow stiffness that shut him down in early March. Then on March 24, Royals fans received a shock announcement that the young lefthander had left baseball to "reassess his life priorities."

"It's disappointing," said J.J. Picollo, Royals assistant general manager of scouting and development, at the time. "He just felt like he needed some time away from the game. We're supportive of it and we've got to just work with him through this."

There is not yet a timetable for Duffy's return to competitive action. He was slated to begin this season at Double-A with the NW Arkansas Naturals, but it could take him some time to regain his form before joining an affiliate this summer.

Through three minor league seasons, Duffy has a career record of 19-10 with a 2.49 ERA. In 245.2 innings pitched, he has fanned 290 hitters while allowing just 188 hits and 41 walks.

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