One of the more interesting players I have followed over the last several years in the Phillies organization is Lakewood BlueClaws first baseman/designated hitter Chris Duffy. Baseball Betsy and I first saw Duffy play first base at Bright House when the GCL Phillies won the Gulf Coast League championship in 2010. This was his first season in the Phillies organization after being drafted in the 26th round of the draft that season. Last season he was a forgotten figure consigned to the GCL for another season. This season we watched him play with Clearwater Threshers briefly until he was sent back down to Lakewood.
The good news is Chris Duffy can absolutely crush a baseball from the left side. I watched him hit a bomb at Bright House and bang a hit off the right field wall during his stay in Clearwater. With the exception of one game he was always the DH with the Threshers. So far this season he has played only 11 games at first and has been a DH in 29 games in total. I can not figure out why he is not given more a chance to play at first.
No player who is used almost exclusively as a designated hitter has much of a future in the Phillies organization. Matt Rizzotti faced the same fate during his tenure in the Phillies organization. Only while Matt was having a big season with the bat two years ago did the Phillies get serious and have him play first base to improve his defense. I will never forget going to a Reading Phillies game in Harrisburg back in 2010 and watching then manager Steve Roadcap do all kinds of unique drills during batting practice with Rizzotti at first to work on his throwing and fielding.
More good news for Duffy, after hitting over .400 in his last ten games to raise his Sally League average to .396 with a 1.035 OPS, Chris finally started at first base last night. He rewarded the Phillies brass by hitting one of the longest home runs in the 12 year history of First Energy park to get on base for the 29th consecutive game for Lakewood. His playing first base probably has more to do with Ryan Howard being scheduled to report to Lakewood on Thursday to continue his rehab than any grand design by the minor league department. I would expect that Howard in the beginning will take over Duffy’s DH spot in the lineup which would allow Duffy to hopefully play first base. Wish I could be there to see Howard hit with Duffy giving him protection next in the order in the same lineup. That will be worth more than the price of admission. Read Here