Prospect Spotlight: Matt Duffy

This post is the first of a new minor league series where we take a closer look at players who, for one reason or another, are under the radar prospects in the Giants’ system. These are usually the players who were drafted in the lower rounds, maybe are a bit older than the “traditional” prospect, or have just completely flown under the radar. I’ll probably do a lot of the guys who didn’t quite make the cut on my mid-season rankings, and a few of our 2013 draft picks.

I’m pretty excited to do these player profiles, because some of these guys might just be diamonds in the rough that pop up on a big league field someday. Farm systems are loaded with unheralded guys, so we certainly have plenty of names to work with here. As I continue to provide updates on some of the guys from our Top 40 list throughout the second half, I’m hoping we can do a few of these profiles a week. It’s also my goal to keep the pitcher to hitter ratio as even as possible.

Matt Duffy: 22 years-old, Hi-A

Position: SS

HT, WT, B/T: 6-2, 175 | RR

2013: 78 G, .306/.401/.423 (.824 OPS), 3 3B, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 21 SB, 44 BB, 41 K

Matt Duffy is a former Long Beach State Dirtbag who is a grinder on the field. The Giants selected the junior shortstop in the 18th round of the 2012 draft, and he recently earned a promotion from Augusta to San Jose. Duffy offers speed and a solid approach at the plate. In 125 career games as a professional (47 at Salem-Keizer, 77 at Augusta, 1 at San Jose), he’s sporting a .283/.386/.370 batting line with 31 stolen bases in 38 attempts. His .386 OBP includes a reverse BB/K ratio of 70/63, which is pretty impressive for a guy who’s new to pro ball. He seems to be finding his niche as a scrappy, bat-control player, but his flaws aren’t hard to find if you look at his numbers. His meager .370 SLG% shows a significant lack of pop, and his 24 career errors are pretty glaring too (although it doesn’t appear that he played shortstop a ton in college, so that might be a factor for the struggles).

Duffy is an interesting case, as collegiate stats really don’t seem to be indicative of his performance with the Giants early on. Through his first two seasons at Long Beach, he was a second baseman with a .260 average and only 11 BB and 9 SB. He earned 2nd-team All-Big West honors as a sophomore, and played in the Cape Cod league that summer, where he played all over the infield and hit .346. His performance with the wood earned him a spot as starting shortstop in the Cape All-Star game (held at Fenway). Duffy looked primed to break out after his strong summer ball campaign, but only hit .244 in his third and final collegiate season. He finished his Dirtbag career without a HR, but did show an improved plate discipline, working 25 walks and striking out only 16 times. His 14 errors that season makes me think he was transitioning to shortstop that year, but I haven’t found anything to confirm it.

The Giants snagged Duffy in the 18th round last year and sent him to short-season A-ball to play shortstop. In 47 games, he hit .247 with a .361 OBP and 10 SB. This year, he was Augusta’s most consistent hitter, showing a little more pop with 21 extra base hits to go along with a .301/.401/.423 line before getting promoted. There really aren’t many great scouting reports on him, but everything I’ve read says Duffy is a hard-working, baseball rat. He’s a true dirtbag, and a guy you’d like to have in your organization. He hit two doubles and drove in a run during his debut in San Jose. If he can keep showing a steady approach at the plate and improve his defense, the Giants may just have a sleeper in the mold of Joe Panik in this kid.