Scouting Yankee Prospect #40: Shelley Duncan

The New York Yankees drafted 1b/DH, Shelley Duncan in the 2nd round (62nd overall) of the 2001 draft. The now 25 year old Duncan is a prospect that possesses potentially lethal power at the plate but still has a lot of potential that is yet to be tapped. It's these reasons that he's our #40 Yankee's prospect.

Vital Statistics
Name: Shelley Duncan
Position: 1b/DH
DOB: September 29, 1979
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Weight: Right
Place of Residence: Tucson, Arizona
How Acquired: Shelley Duncan was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2nd round (62nd overall) of the 2001 amateur draft out of the University of Arizona.

In college, Shelley Duncan was a major part of an excellent baseball program at the University of Arizona. In his career there, Duncan set single season and career records for home runs at the school. During his time there, he was described as having "light tower power" that could take a ball out of the ballpark at any time. Also, on a not so positive note, Duncan had Tommy John surgery in college and was therefore limited to much more time at first base and designated hitter. The 24 year old Duncan also happens to be the son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.

For most, if not all, of his career in the Yankee organization, Shelley has somehow slipped under the radar despite his numerous college and minor league achievements. In his first season in the Yankee farm system, Duncan did show that monster power that he became known for in college with 8 home runs for Staten Island but did not exactly hit up to par. Duncan only managed a .245 batting average and many scouts began to doubt his all around offensive skills. The next season for the Greensboro Bats was much better all around year for him though. He improved his average by bringing it up to .267 while crushing 14 home runs in 356 at bats. His strikeout numbers were not quite as convincing though. Shelley fanned 88 times.

The 2003 season appeared to be, early on, the season in which Shelley put his "light tower" power to work along with much better all around skills. Duncan played spectacular and showed that great power and even brought his average up a large amount. However, Duncan was slowed later in the year with wrist problems which robbed a lot of his hitting ability and especially his power. Eventually, the Tampa Yankees shut down Shelley down for the rest of the season. He ended his disappointing season with only 330 at bats after starting off so well.

In 2004, Shelley Duncan got off to an outstanding start, showing that he could hit for average and power. However, he slowed down in the batting average department as the season wore on. His power and production didn't waver and he also played solid defense as well. Shelley's manager in Tampa, Bill Masse told PinstripesPlus.com a little more about Duncan. "There is no doubt, that Shelley Duncan does have huge, huge power potential," said Masse. "It is definitely well above average power. He does have some potential yet to be tapped into I think. He does have a very good eye at the plate but the thing with Shelley is that he is very streaky right now. It just seems that he isn't making the adjustments sometimes. He sticks to his ways and isn't really willing to adjust to this point. There are some times that it seems like he can't hit a pitch and there are other times that it seems like no one can get him out. If he can ever put it together, he could be very dangerous. I think they'll push him and have him play first base in Trenton next year. That is another thing, he played first base for the first time this year and really did a great job. I was pleasantly surprised by his performance on defense. Not to mention, he keeps the guys loose on the field. He is a just a loosey, goosey guy anyway. I mean, his name is Shelley Duncan. He is just a funny guy and a great person to be around." The Yankees are sticking with Shelley because of his still not totally tapped potential and they will still likely give him the starting first base job in Trenton in 2005. Once again, the organization will look for next season to be the breakout year they've been waiting for.

Year

Team

Avg

AB

R

2B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

SO

SLG

OBP

2001

Staten Island

.245

273

43

17

8

39

5

21

62

.410

 /

2002

Greensboro

.267

356

58

23

14

56

15

59

88

.461

.375

2003

Tampa

.264

330

42

19

8

47

5

35

83

.406

.336

2004

Tampa

.248 424

65

27

19

78

6

54

119

.450

.336


Batting and Power. When it comes to power, that is the name of the game for Shelley Duncan. He takes his healthy cuts at the plate and has fairly decent, improving patience. He is able to hit the long ball with the best of them and is an RBI machine at every level he has played at in his career. If there is something to improve upon in his offense, it would be his strikeout numbers. In 2003, in only 330 at bats, Duncan struck out an unimpressive 83 times. As oppose to his strikeout numbers, he only managed to draw a walk 35 times. His patience is not awful, but would be something to improve upon in his offensive game. Duncan, right now, appears that he has the potential to hit for a decent .270 average but he simply needs to put the bat on the ball more often. Shelley still projects as more of an all or nothing hitter in the future but with some work, he still has the potential to be a well rounded hitter. His power numbers could translate to possibly 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. This is a very good power hitter, one that still has more power and potential that is yet to be tapped. That is probably the reason the Yankees are still so high on him.

Base Running and Speed. You would not exactly qualify Shelley Duncan as a fast runner or a base stealer for that matter. However, he is not an incredibly slow runner either. Two years ago, he was able to steal 15 bases not because he is fast but more so because he is a smart base runner. Duncan has about average speed and is by no means a liability on the base paths.

Defense. Defense may be perhaps the weakest part of Shelley Duncan's game and is a major reason as to why he has become more and more of a 1b/DH over the past couple years. It seems that with a lot of work, his defense has undergone some improvements but is still not you would call solid. In order to remain a valuable prospect, Duncan will have to learn to become a much better fielder rather than a designated hitter. For instance, his play at 1b was so-so in 2005. He committed 10 errors, but it was his first season as a full time 1b.

Projection. There is no doubt that Shelley Duncan can eventually be a major league hitter, but just how good is the question. He will most likely be a big power hitting threat that is able to drive in over 100 runs. However, the only doubt is if he will be able to hit for a solid batting average. He is a similar case to fellow Yankee prospect, Mitch Jones. The power won't fail him but if his batting average doesn't come around, his future may be as a power threat off the bench. His future will be at first base or DH but his lack of positional flexibility could hurt him and his prospect value.

ETA. 2006. At this point, Duncan is slightly over aged for High A ball but this is mostly because of his late season injury in 2003. Even despite a pedestrian 2004 season, Duncan should still find himself as the 1b/DH in AA Trenton in 2005. Then, if everything goes according to plan, he should spend 2006 with Columbus barring any injuries or trade. If he finally comes into his own by then, 2006 could be the year that Shelley makes his jump to the big show in a September callup.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories