The South Atlantic League at the Low-A level features some exciting prospects and players who could be big league superstars in a few years. We continue the league’s All-Stars with the team’s third baseman, Adam Duvall.
Name: Adam Duvall
Bats and Throws: R
2011 Team: Augusta Greenjackets (SFG)
Basic Batting Stats: .285/.385/.527, 30 doubles, 22 homers, 87 RBI in 116 games
Fielding Stats: 95 games at third base, .905 Fld%
After an impressive career at the University of Louisville after transferring from Western Kentucky University, posting a .323/.407/.548 line with 23 home runs in 145 NCAA games, Duvall was drafted in the 11th round by the Giants in 2010 with little fanfare. Duvall’s hometown is Louisville, Kentucky, a city with a great baseball history and the birthplace of Dodgers Hall of Fame shortstop (and occasional third baseman) Pee Wee Reese.
Especially for a player who was never considered any sort of prospect, Adam Duvall’s 2011 in the Sally League was very impressive. His .912 OPS ranked second among Sally League qualifiers and his 22 homers were tied for 5th. Some players suddenly figure themselves out in the minor leagues, but we have to question how much of Duvall’s stout 2011 performance was a fluke.
Duvall’s outstanding power (.244 ISO) came from a combination of a slightly-above average ratio of flyballs to the outfield and a nice line drive percentage. According to Minor League Central, 31.0% of his batted balls were flyballs to the outfield, neatly above the league average of 29.2% while his 17.9% line drive percentage was solidly above the league average of 16.4%. 21.2% of Duvall’s flyballs to the outfield went for home runs compared to the league average of 9.1%, but considering Duvall hit 30 doubles in addition to his 22 homers, that mark wasn’t too much of a fluke.
Duvall’s GB/FB (groundballs to flyballs ratio) was .80 compared to the league average of 1.17, and in general, flyball hitters (and pitchers) most a lower BAbip because flyballs don’t turn into lucky hits when they’re weakly hit nearly as often as groundballs do. Nevertheless, Duvall posted a .323 BAbip, above the league average of .314. Sure, Duvall was hitting the ball hard, but that mark was a fluke and we have to expect a decline in batting average from Duvall in 2012. Also, not only was Duvall hitting so many flyballs, but also a lot of them were pop-ups. 13.1% of his batted balls were pop-ups compared to the 7.2% league average, and 29.7% of his flyballs were pop-ups compared to the league average of 19.7%. That’s a worrying sign going forward, but it can also be looked at in the exact opposite way: if Duvall can turn those pop-ups into outfield flyballs, he’ll be able to hit for even more power. But the problem is that at 23 years old already, Duvall isn’t about to add any bat speed, so he basically is what he is as a player at this point.
Duvall showed a nice eye in 2011, walking unintentionally in 10.9% of his plate appearances compared to the league average of 8.3% and also striking out in 19.0% of his plate appearances compared to the league average of 20.1% despite making contact at a slightly below average rate, 58.0% compared to the league average of 59.2%. But Duvall’s 4 intentional walks showed how careful pitchers were with him as he was easily the best hitter on a weak-hitting team. The Greenjackets hit just .248 in 2011, next-to-last in the Sally League. 61.2% of pitches thrown against Duvall in 2011 were in the zone compared to the league average of 68.7%. College stats barely mean anything, but it tells you something that Duvall walked in just 8.2% of his plate appearances in his three college seasons spanning 646 plate appearances. It’s highly probable that his true plate discipline is more in that average 8% range than the above average mark he posted in 2011.
Not to mention Duvall’s defense. His .905 Fld% is too low to begin with but especially for a polished college player and even though Duvall has a decent arm, his range is questionable and he may have to move to first base.
Duvall had a nice season in 2011, but there are several signs for concern.
Adam Duvall is a bit better than he was evaluated coming out of the University of Louisville, but he’s still not too much of a prospect. He has nice power but he projects to hit for a below average batting average with just an average walk rate in coming seasons, not a good combination. Realistically, he’s probably a power-hitting pinch-hitter off a National League bench going forward, but even then his defense limits him. Duvall will need to hit for a lot of power to offset his flaws. That power has the chance to take Duvall to the big leagues, but how much of it he showcases in coming seasons will really determine his prospect stock. The expectations for Duvall remain pretty low, but it’s worth noting that he has proved us wrong before.
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