Duff Amping Up

There was a time a few years ago where Grant Duff was showing some plus stuff, but it soon took a back seat to further developing some more command. Now a member of the Trenton bullpen, Duff, who has approached triple digits on the radar gun, has seen his stuff take an even bigger jump and his overall game is peaking at the right time.

Grant Duff, who has been clocked as high as 99 MPH this season, has a few ideas as to why he's throwing harder now, but what he does know is how much being a reliever suits him.

"As a starter you want to go out and try to conserve yourself and get deep into the game," he said before a game. "As a reliever you come out and you have one, two, maybe three innings to blow it out and throw as hard as you can. I love doing that."

In his first year with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, the 26-year old has been trying to find his footing as a pitcher, but believes he's found his comfort zone.

"In Tampa they were telling me I needed to control my pitches a little better and not try to throw as hard," he added. "I was anywhere from 90-94. I kind of figured out what kind of pitcher I wanted to be.

"I'm not really a finesse pitcher that can control the ball perfectly on the outside corners. I'm more of a power guy who's going to throw hard and try to get it by people."

With throwing harder, control issues can become a problem, but Thunder pitching coach Tommy Phelps hasn't seen that as an issue.

"He has really good control. He can throw strikes," he said. "Sometimes his command gets a little erratic, but the better command he has with his stuff, the more consistently he's going to be able to get guys out."

Duff, a Mammoth California native, looks back to the very start of his baseball life as having something to do with what he needed later on in his professional career.

"Growing up in a small town, I never had a good pitching coach, so my mechanics were extremely erratic. Through the years, working with the Yankees pitching coaches, I made tremendous strides this season and last season. I've slowly seen my velocity go up.

"I'm staying back longer and therefore I'm able to get my momentum towards home plate. This year with a couple small tweaks to my mechanics, it's given me the ability to throw harder for some reason."

In 2006 he was showing different stuff, a slider which had been very effective. But along the way, troubles arose and it affected his ability to throw it with the same success.

"In GCL I was throwing the slider, which was a really good pitch for me. In 2007 I kind of lost my mechanics, so I lost a feel for my slider. I got my mechanics back on track and needed to find my slider," he said.

"Last year was a work in progress and this year I feel I've gotten it back on track pretty good. It's become a really good pitch for me, as it was in the past."

The slider has been a pitch he's gone the distance with, changing it as it's needed to be and figuring out how to make it work for him.

"My slider earlier in my career was a slower pitch, 78-82, and it had a little more lift to it. Now with everything being harder, I'm not able to throw that slower pitch, so I changed it.

"I changed my grip a little bit. It's a lot harder, so it looks like a fastball, then it drops off. I'm also developing a split-finger fastball. By having that pitch, it's going to make my slider better."

"His slider to me is a major league pitch," Phelps said. "It has good tilt, it comes right off his fastball. He's learning how to use it in certain situations, especially later in the game."

The conversion from starter to reliever has also contributed to giving him a better understanding of both his role on the team and for the foreseeable future in his career.

"I was a starter and now I'm a reliever and relievers tend to throw a little bit harder. Last year I was starting and relieving and now I've been relieving all year. That probably has something to do with the velocity change," Duff opined.

With Trenton this year, he's 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA. He's allowed 24 walks combined between his time in Tampa and Trenton.

"I don't know if I'm surprised," Phelps said of Duff's progress. "He's been a starter and thrown the ball up to 97. You always see guys get more arm strength when they're out of the bullpen. He has shown a plus fastball this year."

Duff credits Phelps as well as the surroundings for what might be giving him some extra power.

"Working with Tommy, and with some fans in the stadiums, the whole aspect of being in Double-A made me get a little more juiced up, I think. The ball's jumping and coming out harder."

There's been some bumps in the transition, but, well, that goes with the minor league territory.

"I'm really happy with the way things have been going. I've had a couple scuffles here as of late. But I'm trying to move forward in that process."

As for where he'll be next season and whether or not he makes the 40-man roster, he's trying to keep his mind off of that.

"It's a big off-season due to the fact that I have to be protected this year," Duff said. "I hope I get put on, but I can't control it.

"That's something you think about, but all I can do is go out and pitch. This is the organization that drafted me and the organization I want to be with."

And if he gets put on the 40-man roster?

"I'd be ecstatic."

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nGrant Duff, who has been clocked as high as 99 MPH this season, has a few ideas as to why he's throwing harder now, but what he does know is how much being a reliever suits him.
\r\n
\r\n\"As a starter you want to go out and try to conserve yourself and get deep into the game,\" he said before a game. \"As a reliever you come out and you have one, two, maybe three innings to blow it out and throw as hard as you can. I love doing that.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn his first year with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, the 26-year old has been trying to find his footing as a pitcher, but believes he's found his comfort zone.
\r\n
\r\n\"In Tampa they were telling me I needed to control my pitches a little better and not try to throw as hard,\" he added. \"I was anywhere from 90-94. I kind of figured out what kind of pitcher I wanted to be.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not really a finesse pitcher that can control the ball perfectly on the outside corners. I'm more of a power guy who's going to throw hard and try to get it by people.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith throwing harder, control issues can become a problem, but Thunder pitching coach Tommy Phelps hasn't seen that as an issue.
\r\n
\r\n\"He has really good control. He can throw strikes,\" he said. \"Sometimes his command gets a little erratic, but the better command he has with his stuff, the more consistently he's going to be able to get guys out.\"
\r\n
\r\nDuff, a Mammoth California native, looks back to the very start of his baseball life as having something to do with what he needed later on in his professional career.
\r\n
\r\n\"Growing up in a small town, I never had a good pitching coach, so my mechanics were extremely erratic. Through the years, working with the Yankees pitching coaches, I made tremendous strides this season and last season. I've slowly seen my velocity go up.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm staying back longer and therefore I'm able to get my momentum towards home plate. This year with a couple small tweaks to my mechanics, it's given me the ability to throw harder for some reason.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn 2006 he was showing different stuff, a slider which had been very effective. But along the way, troubles arose and it affected his ability to throw it with the same success.
\r\n
\r\n\"In GCL I was throwing the slider, which was a really good pitch for me. In 2007 I kind of lost my mechanics, so I lost a feel for my slider. I got my mechanics back on track and needed to find my slider,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Last year was a work in progress and this year I feel I've gotten it back on track pretty good. It's become a really good pitch for me, as it was in the past.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe slider has been a pitch he's gone the distance with, changing it as it's needed to be and figuring out how to make it work for him.
\r\n
\r\n\"My slider earlier in my career was a slower pitch, 78-82, and it had a little more lift to it. Now with everything being harder, I'm not able to throw that slower pitch, so I changed it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I changed my grip a little bit. It's a lot harder, so it looks like a fastball, then it drops off. I'm also developing a split-finger fastball. By having that pitch, it's going to make my slider better.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"His slider to me is a major league pitch,\" Phelps said. \"It has good tilt, it comes right off his fastball. He's learning how to use it in certain situations, especially later in the game.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe conversion from starter to reliever has also contributed to giving him a better understanding of both his role on the team and for the foreseeable future in his career.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was a starter and now I'm a reliever and relievers tend to throw a little bit harder. Last year I was starting and relieving and now I've been relieving all year. That probably has something to do with the velocity change,\" Duff opined.
\r\n
\r\nWith Trenton this year, he's 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA. He's allowed 24 walks combined between his time in Tampa and Trenton.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know if I'm surprised,\" Phelps said of Duff's progress. \"He's been a starter and thrown the ball up to 97. You always see guys get more arm strength when they're out of the bullpen. He has shown a plus fastball this year.\"
\r\n
\r\nDuff credits Phelps as well as the surroundings for what might be giving him some extra power.
\r\n
\r\n\"Working with Tommy, and with some fans in the stadiums, the whole aspect of being in Double-A made me get a little more juiced up, I think. The ball's jumping and coming out harder.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere's been some bumps in the transition, but, well, that goes with the minor league territory.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm really happy with the way things have been going. I've had a couple scuffles here as of late. But I'm trying to move forward in that process.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs for where he'll be next season and whether or not he makes the 40-man roster, he's trying to keep his mind off of that.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's a big off-season due to the fact that I have to be protected this year,\" Duff said. \"I hope I get put on, but I can't control it.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's something you think about, but all I can do is go out and pitch. This is the organization that drafted me and the organization I want to be with.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnd if he gets put on the 40-man roster?
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd be ecstatic.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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