Scouting Yankee Prospect #43: Shelley Duncan

The Yankees drafted Shelley Duncan in the 2nd round out of the 2001 MLB Draft out of the University of Arizona. Possessing some of the best power in the farm system, Duncan ranks #43 among our Top 50 Yankees prospects. Here is a scouting report on Shelley Duncan.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Shelley Duncan
Position: First Base
DOB: September 29, 1979
Height: 6' 5"
Weight: 215
Bats:: Right
Throws: Right

"I do consider myself a power hitter," Shelley Duncan told PinstripesPlus.com in an earlier interview. "Everyone has a role, and mine is to drive in runs. For me, that includes hitting the long ball."

Hitting the long ball is what Duncan does best. In fact, Shelley Duncan hit a career-high 34 home runs with the AA-Trenton Thunder in 2005, a season which included the Eastern League Home Run Derby title for him as well.

Studies have shown that over half of the minor leaguers that reach the AA level will eventually reach the Major League level in some capacity. If power were the only trait needed, Shelley would be a lock to make it. But over his career, he has struggled with a consistent approach at the plate.

"When I'm going well, my approach is up the middle," the charismatic first baseman confessed. "I try to drive it to center, and whatever happens, happens. When I'm not going well, sometimes I'll get a little pull happy and try to do too much. I'll try to use my body more than my hands, and top-spin balls instead staying back and driving them."

Despite a somewhat patient approach at the plate, Duncan's inconsistent approach at the plate has resulted in rather high strikeout totals, which has lead to prolonged slumps. Case in point, Shelley Duncan struggled to hit .210 in the second half of the 2005 season.

"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]."

"It depends on the pitcher, but I mostly try to stick in a certain zone," Duncan told us of his plan at the plate. "It usually doesn't matter what the pitch is. If it's in the zone where I'm looking, I'll let it fly. I'm always striving to get better, and there are a lot of things I can improve on. One is that I want to control the outer half of the plate better. It's more of a zone thing, where teams pitch me in and I need to follow the adjustments when they go outside. I'm trying to recognize and adjust better when they do."

One of the hardest workers and one of the most likeable players in the Yankees' farm system, Shelley Duncan, the son of St. Louis Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan, is steadfast in his goal of reaching the Major Leagues. However, in a development system designed to focus on personal growth, Duncan is the consummate teammate.

"Success isn't a promotion or huge numbers. It's about playing the best I can every day. To help the team win and play well and be a part of it. If I play well, and we don't win, there will still be something missing," said Duncan.

That's the kind of player Yankees' fans will find easy to root for.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2005

Trenton

.240

537

28

34

92

86

3

56

140

.323

.490

2004

Tampa

.248

424

27

19

78

65

6

54

119

.336

.450

2003

Tampa

.264

330

19

8

47

42

5

35

83

.336

.406

2002

Greensboro

.267

356

23

14

56

58

15

59

88

.375

.461

2001

Staten Island

.245

273

17

8

39

43

5

21

62

.375

.410



Batting and Power. Shelley Duncan has one of the most powerful swings in the Yankees' farm system and he finally put up the type of power numbers in 2005 many believed he could post. He's a patient hitter but isn't a very good contact hitter. His strikeout ratios, while still a little too high for the Yankees' taste, are right in line with most power hitters. Duncan is more of a hit-and-miss type of hitter, earning the reputation as a streaky hitter who lacks consistency. When he connects though, watch out! Nearly 50% of his hits in 2005 went for extra-bases, which puts him in an elite category at the minor league level.

Base running and Speed. Shelley is a big boy who is built like a typical first baseman. He doesn't have great speed, but does have a little bit above average speed for a power-hitting first baseman. He uses quick feet and innate baseball instincts enough to contribute on the base paths. Duncan will swipe a few bases when the opponents are napping.

Defense. It seems like forever since Duncan played in the outfield for the Greensboro Bats. Duncan's powerful bat was a major reason to find him a position on the field, moving him to first base in 2004 with the Tampa Yankees. As mentioned above, Duncan has quick feet but his range isn't the greatest around the bag. He's serviceable defensively at first base, akin to Jason Giambi. Teams would probably rather have him as a designated hitter though.

Projection. Shelley could project to be a starting first baseman at the Major League level, even at 26 years old. The problem is, with his lack of consistency at the plate, it doesn't appear likely that Duncan will get his shot at a starting job with the Yankees. New York would absolutely love to add his power to their bench as a reserve first baseman and designated hitter someday. As his stats show, when he does hit the ball, chances are better than average it is going to be a big hit. Shelley joins the like of Mitch Jones and Andy Phillips as hitters that could benefit from a change of scenery.

ETA. 2007. Duncan's ETA is now pretty much determined by the transactions on players above him. He has very little to prove at the minor league level. At 26 years old, Duncan's game might be refined slightly, but there's very little projection left in his game. He is what he is. Duncan could break in with the Yankees as soon as 2006 as a reserve player, but the safer bet has him making his Major League debut in 2007 after some time in AAA-Columbus in 2006.

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