First it was Aaron Crow making the Royals as a reliever out of spring training. Then, two weeks ago, Kansas City’s top hitting prospect Eric Hosmer was called up to the major leagues. And today, the Royals called up the first of their prized starting pitching prospects, as Danny Duffy will make his first major league start tonight against the Texas Rangers.
Duffy is being called up due to injuries to Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies along with Vin Mazzaro having one of the worst outings in recent memory Monday, giving up 14 runs in 2.1 innings.
The timing of the move is still curious, however. While the Royals are 20-21 and just two games behind Detroit for the wild card right now, their current talent level is below what it will likely take to make the playoffs.
So, it’s focus should be more on the future and making sure that they bring up their prospects at the right time. They did this with Hosmer. He was ready and he was brought up.
Now Duffy, 22, is probably more ready than the Royals other top pitching prospect in Triple-A, Mike Montgomery. Duffy is a year older and is currently 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA, while Montgomery is 2-1 with a 4.25 ERA.
But, Duffy has been scuffling of late. He has given up 10 earned runs in his past 16 innings in Omaha. If Duffy had been pitching better recently, I can see bringing him up, but why bring him up when he’s struggling to face a Rangers’ lineup that enters tonight’s contest fifth in baseball in runs scored? Why not wait until he’s pitching better and facing a lesser offense, such as the Twins?
Now, I’m not concerned about calling him up before June because it will affect his arbitration time clock, as I believe that rule will be thrown out the window in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
But if Duffy gets rocked tonight, what will that do for his confidence? Will he start lacking trust in his stuff? Is it worth it to possibly hurt one of the better prospects in the team’s minor league system to win a game now in a season where the team is likely not going to be in position to make the playoffs in the end?
Maybe Duffy will step right in and start dealing, making Royals general manger Dayton Moore look smart. But I don’t think the possible return at this point is worth the risk.
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Written by Ryan Riordan