Shelley is Scranton's Unlikely All-Star

Shelley Duncan is off to the All-Star game

Before the season began, if one had to guess which of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Yankees would be Triple-A All-Star Game selections, they probably would not throw Shelley Duncan's name into the mix. Even though he represented Trenton in the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2005, the seven-year veteran had only played 12 games in Triple-A before this season.

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Plus, the Scranton lineup had a couple of players on it that not only had track records in Triple-A, but had also logged time in the majors. But, as one would say, "that's why they play the games".

Duncan to date has had not only the best seasons of his career, but has had one of the most prolific first half's in the history of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise.

Going into the All-Star break, Shelley Duncan has already hit 21 home runs, which is second best in the International League. He already finds himself just three home runs shy of the franchise record for home runs in a season in early July.

He is also second in the league in RBI with 66 and second in slugging percentage at .555. Duncan has also been a rock in the Scranton batting order batting .286 and has been one of the bright spots of a Yankee offense that has been mediocre at best this season (as a team the Yankees are batting .262, seventh best in the league).

All of this success has garnered Duncan a spot in the Triple-A All-Star game next week in Albuquerque, New Mexico as the International League's starting designated hitter.

"I'm just excited to play in the game," Duncan said. "It [the Triple-A All-Star Game] is so much fun and is done really well. Plus you get the chance to hang out with guys from around the league you play against all the time."

"It's also a unique experience for me playing against the PCL and guys I've never really seen before. It's going to be something different."

Duncan has attributed a few things to why he has been so successful in 2007. First, Duncan has used his experience to help himself become a better player.

"As you get older, you learn how to use your mind a little better," he said. "You learn to stay focused longer and have more consistency at the plate. You also learn how to control yourself. I think that's the most important thing."

The second reason has been Duncan's continuous work with Scranton hitting coach Butch Wynegar. He has followed Wynegar's instructions every step of the way this season and he is thankful that the former All-Star catcher is his coach.

"It's a blessing to have a coach like Butch," Duncan said. "From day one back in Spring Training, we've been on the same page with one another. I've been open-ears to everything he has said. He has really helped me keep my swing as simple as possible and as short as it can be."

Duncan's contributions to the Scranton team don't only come from the batters box, but also out in the field. Duncan has played a myriad of positions this season, from first to left and right field, to just plain old DH'ing.

"It's kind of neat coming to the ballpark everyday and not knowing where I'm going to be playing," he said. "That's never happened to me before."

Duncan, however, has not complained at all of the position changes, which at times occur daily.

"I'm just happy to be playing anywhere," he said. I'm comfortable playing any position they put me in."

When one looks at the season that Shelley Duncan is having, one word comes into their head - promotion. That word is the last word Duncan wants to hear right now.

"There's stuff you can't control [getting promoted to the majors] and once you start thinking about that stuff it screws up the things you can control," he said. "I've learned that it's hard not to get caught up in that stuff, but it only screws with you when you do. I'm just focusing on today and this team."

Whatever the future holds for Shelley Duncan, the soft-spoken 6-foot-5 slugger remains positive and realizes that to get to the majors, he has to take things one day at a time.

"I'm on this team right now and this is what I'm focused on," Duncan reiterated. "In order for me to play the best I can, and get the shot at the majors, I have to worry about right here."

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