As Danny Duffy heads to the mound this evening, it's fascinating to think about the journey the young man has been on, before ever reaching Kansas City. The 22 year old actually retired from baseball during spring training in 2010, out of the game at age 21 and having never pitched above Class A Wilmington.
Fast forward to June 2nd of last year and Duffy was back, after spending time back home in California, he realized baseball was still in him. By June 28th he was back pitching in games before eventually reaching AA Northwest Arkansas by the end of the season. Now everything has seemed to come full circle as he is in the majors less than a year later. The story is similar to former Royals ace Zack Greinke, and ironically Duffy will be wearing number 23 as well.
From an article last month in the Omaha World-Herald-
"I knew I wanted to come back a while before I did," Duffy said. "Watching ‘Baseball Tonight' (on television), and seeing people I had faced kind of lit that fire. Baseball has always been what I was meant to do. I just had to go home for a while to realize that."
The same article also provides a primer on what to expect from the young left hander-
Duffy possesses a fastball that he'll typically run up at 90 to 92 mph and, when he needs it, will sometimes bring in at 95. He combines that with a solid changeup and breaking pitches, and a crossfire delivery that keeps hitters off balance.
Today SB Nation's own Rob Neyer wrote about Duffy and developing young pitchers in your own farm system. The criteria used is a pitcher you drafted, winning 50 games for your club. The article states it is very hard to do so, as the Boston Red Sox for example have had just one drafted pitcher win atleast 50 games for them in the past 25 years.
For a small market club like Kansas City, it's much more important to hit on draft picks that will help the club as the funding for free agents and the ability to draw big names isn't the same as in the larger markets.
The Royals had had three pitchers qualify for the list, as Kevin Appier (1987 1st round) won 115 games for the Royals. Tom Gordon (1986 6th round) is second on the list for Kansas City, as he won 79 games with the team before moving on and playing an additional 13 seasons with seven other teams. Then there is the recently departed Greinke (2002 1st round) who won 60 games for Kansas City.
Here's to hoping that Duffy and the long list of starters that will follow him, such as Michael Montgomery and John Lamb, also challenge to join the list of the likes of Appier, Gordon, and Greinke.