A 25-year-old slugger from Tuscon, Arizona, Shelly Duncan is hitting .262 with a league-leading 24…
Shelly Keeps All-Star Success In Perspective
Duncan was pleased that he was one of a handful of Thunder players selected to the game, but doesn't think he's as sound as he could be in some areas.
"Yeah, I'm happy about being selected," said the 25-year old Duncan.
He is not content with the nine errors he has made defensively and 85 strikeouts in 347 at-bats. When you consider that Duncan is primarily a power bat in the Thunder lineup, his high strikeout number is acceptable, especially when there are other players on the Thunder roster who have an almost 50/50 strikeout to at-bat ratio.
Duncan, who stands tall at 6-5, believes that the key to his success will be his ability to remain consistent year to year and throughout the long season. He has managed to remain consistent this season to the tune of a .262 average and 22 home runs. He also leads the Thunder in runs batted in with 61 in the season's first half.
He admits to feeling more relaxed, and he should as he is experiencing a rarity in minor league baseball. Duncan is in the middle of his fourth season with the same manager. He and Thunder skipper Bill Masse have been together since Duncan's second professional season when the two came together in the South Atlantic League with the Greensboro Bats.
The pair spent the last two seasons together in Tampa before making the northward trek together to Trenton for the 2005 season. Masse had nothing but praise for his young slugger who he has watched mature as a player and person over the last four years.
"He's been my most consistent ball-striker all year,", said Masse. "He's still learning first base, but Shelly has worked as hard as I've ever seen him work this year."
"Usually with Shelly you get him going through highs and lows, and he has big streaks were he gets really hot and really cold but so far this year he hasn't done that yet. He really hasn't had any prolonged slumps," said Masse.
It is this consistency that Duncan has strived to find all year long as he learns first base and makes the transition to Double-A. Duncan's emotions and competitive fire are a major part of his game and something he has tried to harness to his advantage as his professional career advances.
"My biggest thing is consistency," Duncan told PinstripesPlus.com. "I tried my hardest to deal with my emotions [and use them to my advantage during the game]."
Duncan is the second Thunder first-base man in two years who has shown extraordinary power and the talent to succeed in Triple-A and beyond. Duncan took home some Double-A hardware during his trip to the recent All-Star Game where he took home the Home Run Derby Crown, the same way his predecessor Mitch Jones did last year.
Jones was the winner of this year's Home Run Derby at the Triple-A All-Star Game and is enjoying the type of Triple-A success that Duncan can hope will also come his way. Duncan admitted that it was special to participate in the All-Star Festivities and take home the home run crown but didn't get caught up in the whole Thunder lineage of the award.
"Sure it's special and it's nice to keep the award here in Trenton but I haven't really thought about the other stuff that goes with it," said Duncan.
All told, a Thunder player has won the award every year since the All-Star Game converted back from a Double-A game to including only the Eastern League. Brian Myrow took home the award in 2003 in Trenton's first year as a Yankees affiliate and Jones and Duncan followed suit.
Duncan doesn't worry about his individual accolades though; team success is much more important to the Thunder's grounded starting first-baseman. He believes that if this Thunder team can do what his Florida State League team did last season, then he would be happy no matter what his ending statistics are.
"Team always comes first," Duncan told us. "We're fighting to win the division and if I can stay even-keeled and contribute to that, then that would be a successful season," said Duncan.
While he admits that his All-Star experience was enjoyable, Duncan keeps the big picture in perspective and realizes that with the current amount of movement it will be difficult for the Thunder to continue their current winning streak as the season rolls on. He does not, however, concede that this season is lost.
"Our strength all year has been our ability to play well as a team and if there continues to be as much movement as there is right now, it will tough to maintain that kind of chemistry but we'll just try to gel it together as well as we can as quick as we can," Duncan told us.
Duncan has all the tools for big-league success including a outlook grounding in perspective aimed at the long-term and the talent and skill to make every kid's Major League dream come true. Duncan could prove to be a viable DH or first-baseman for the Yankees or any other Major League club in the near future because of his dedication and his talent.
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