When Sandy Alderson was asked what his expectations were for Lucas Duda last week on Twitter, he responded,
“OPS, High OBP and big power. He put on another show in BP today.”
I loved Terry Collins’ take much better.
After watching his right fielder take a few pitches over the fence and out of the park he said,
“This guy is going to be a monster.”
Last week I had a little exchange with Seedlings To Stars about Lucas Duda:
Lucas Duda never really spent any quality time on anyone’s prospect list, and yet here he is about to lay claim to the Mets everyday rightfield job in 2012. Did he just slip through the cracks?
Nathaniel: You’re asking the wrong guy! I actually had Duda 49th on my top 100 prospects entering 2011, and he obviously didn’t let me down, delivering with the bat in his rookie campaign.
As for why others didn’t like him, it goes back to what I was saying earlier about first base prospects. Here’s a paragraph out of the article I mentioned in my response to #3:
“Obviously, this sort of analysis has tremendous bearing on my ranking of first base prospects. The way I look at it, they’re all fighting for 5-8 spots. I figure there’s going to usually be 8-10 true first base “prospects,” and half of them will work out, and then all the other minor league first basemen combined will produce two or three unpredictable sleepers who go on to a major league career. Two or three of the true “prospects” and one of the sleepers then go on to actually become above-average at the position.”
Prior to 2010, Lucas Duda was far, far away from being in the 8-10 “true first base prospects.” In three seasons, he’d never had a year where he hit even a dozen home runs, and as basically a “bat-only” guy who wasn’t particularly young for his levels, he was far from exceptional—he was really in the same position Dykstra and Welch are in, as a nice minor league bat that doesn’t project as much of anything.
Suddenly in 2010, he finally hit with the sort of authority you’d expect from someone his size. As soon as he carried his performance over to Triple-A, I was squarely on his bandwagon, especially since he was also in the outfield full-time—once the package came together for him, few minor leaguers had such a well-rounded offensive profile, and fewer still had carried that sort of performance through up to Triple-A.
Sometimes, though, there’s a real lag effect with breakouts, where people want to see a player sustain the breakout for a second year. This is particularly true for guys like Duda, whose prospect case was always built more on production than any sort of “tools” or projection. Given, though, that his breakout propelled him to the major leagues, so he had nothing left to prove as a prospect, I think people should have bought into it more quickly.