Q&A with Eric Duncan

Part Paul O'Neill, part Chipper Jones, all business. We had the pleasure of doing a Question & Answer session with Yankees' top prospect, Eric Duncan. Duncan was the Yankees' first round draft pick in the 2003 Amateur Draft. Duncan, who won't even turn 20 years old until this December, was one of the youngest positional players in the Florida State League this past season. Here's what Duncan had to say.

Reprinted version of our May 17th Q&A with Eric Duncan so our newer PinstripesPlus premium subscribers can enjoy this article had they missed it.

PinstripesPlus: When you were initially drafted by the Yankees last summer, what was the first thing that went through your mind?

Eric Duncan: Just real joy, it was just a great feeling that I could experience something like that with my family and my best friends around me. It was a great time and a great feeling.

PP: Since turning pro last summer, what part of your game has improved the most? What have you learned about baseball that has changed you in any way?

ED: I think consistency or the mental part of the game. You fail so much in baseball, you have to be mentally tough.  Being able to cope with that is the biggest part of the game.

PP: What part of your game do you feel separates you from other prospects around baseball?

ED: Hard work.  Growing up playing ball across the country, there's great athletes out there, I think hard work separates different people. Just doing little things, working on your weaknesses, the coaches are there to help you and there's no excuses [not to work].  Whenever you want to work, the coaches will be there with you.

PP: Word around the scouting world is that you project to end up playing first base instead of third base. How do you feel about your defense at third, and the possibility of a position switch down the line?

ED: I've always been a third baseman and I'd always like to be a third baseman.  I'm working really hard to stay there.  But, I play for the Yankees and I respect whatever they want me to do, and I'll move to first base if that's what they ask of me, but I'm working my tail off there to stay a third baseman.

PP: Does the thought of being traded ever enter your mind, considering you are a Yankee prospect?

ED: It truly hasn't.  Especially how the Yankees are, where stuff happens so quickly between rumors and things actually happening, you can't think about it.  I just think about what I have to do in the next game.

PP: Are there any specific goals you would have for your 2004 season?

ED: Just to win, I think.  I'll be contributing to the team by us winning, as long as the team does well, it'll be okay, everything's always happier when you win.

PP: What is your favorite part of being in the pros?

ED: Just getting to play baseball every day.  It's been my favorite thing to do ever since I was younger, and now I get to do it everyday as my job.

PP: You began this season in something of a slump. What adjustments did you make to right yourself?

ED: I just kept plugging away, just trusting the stuff that got me here, just knowing that I was going to come out of it, and knowing that it'll happen again, so not to worry about it.

PP: How do you feel about Battle Creek's chances in the Midwest League?

ED: I feel great.  We're the youngest team in the league, we've got some great players, great pitchers especially and we're starting to really come together as a team.

PP: Which of your teammates impresses you the most as far as on field skills?

ED: Tyler Clippard.  For a 19-year-old kid to come out of the Gulf Coast League - a league where most players are older -  he's done a great job.  He's got poise on the mound, control, looks like a veteran pitcher, I'm really impressed by him.

PP: What do you think of your recent comparisons to Chipper Jones? Is there any player that you have tried to model yourself after?

ED: I grew up watching and admiring [former Yankee outfielder] Paul O'Neill, and I modeled myself after him.  Being compared to any big-leaguer is a thrill, but that's just an honor to be compared to a hitter like Chipper Jones.

PP: What was your most exciting moment ever on a baseball field?

ED: Winning the state championship during my senior of high school (at Seton Hall Prep).

PP: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What do you think your chances of making the big-league Yankees are?

ED: I see myself just hopefully being on the big-league roster.  My chances are like any other minor-leaguer out there, we're all given the same opportunity, you just got to keep putting in the hard work.  I want to be in the big leagues.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories