The strong Royals farm system has been the talk and envy of baseball in recent years, and several of the team's top prospects are now finding their way to the big leagues. Starting pitcher Danny Duffy is one of his club's recent callups, and he has enjoyed some success. The 22-year-old left-hander from Lompoc, Calif., recently spoke with MLBPLAYERS.com.
06/14/2011 11:15 AM ET
Danny Duffy seeks first win in Majors
Young left-hander is a recent callup of the Royals
By Jeff Moeller / MLBPLAYERS.com
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have made your first big league starts. What has the experience been like so far?
Danny Duffy: It has been a huge learning experience more than anything. I am really learning how I to need to mix up the pitches that I throw to certain people and in certain counts. At this level, I can't blow it by everybody, I can't overpower guys all the time. It can be pretty humbling. It is also about pace and keeping yourself under control.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have faced one team, Texas, twice now. How was it different the second time?
Duffy: I think maybe I had more of an advantage that second time because I learned a lot that first time about pitching to them. The second time also featured a stronger Rangers lineup as Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz were back from injury. I feel like I was at ease out there that second time. There was no pressure on me. It was just my going out there and pitching. That is the kind of mentality that I have. You don't want to get too amped out there.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have come very close to your first win on a couple of occasions. What will you do to celebrate that first 'W' when it does come?
Duffy: It will mean a lot. But not to downplay it, I will be just as excited about getting a win for the team. That might sound cliché, but I really want to be a part of this team and help it win.
MLBPLAYERS.com: For somebody who has not seen you pitch, what pitches do you throw?
Duffy: My fastball usually reaches the mid-90s and the upper-90s on occasion. I like to dominate with that pitch, I like to throw it a lot, but I'm learning I need to throw my curve, slider and changeup a little bit more. My changeup sort of dead-fishes at the end. It runs to the outside of the plate against righties and that helps to make it effective. My slider is a pitch I threw a lot more at Double-A. I threw it in high school originally, but there they wanted me to focus on my curveball.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You are often listed as one of many good young players who are coming up through the Kansas City system. Who are some of the other guys?
Duffy: Mike Moustakas at third base is really a standout offensively, and he is really solid and clutch in the field. Eric Hosmer is a standout all the way around. He is awesome offensively, and he hits the ball with power to all parts of the field. He is one of the best first basemen I have ever seen. At Triple-A right now is Johnny Giavotella, who is a second baseman. He is a good gap hitter and he is good with the glove. Mike Montgomery is a name you read about a lot. He has a good fastball and a good spike curveball. He has good angle on his ball and he is real long. He can tie his shoes standing up because he has such long arms. John Lamb is a left-handed pitcher who has really good command, but he just had Tommy John surgery. Salvador Perez is a great catcher with a strong arm. He is really advanced behind the plate for his age. I don't want to leave anyone out. We have a lot of good young talent with the Royals.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is there camaraderie in that group off the field as well?
Duffy: Oh, yeah. There are no problems between any of us. We, of course, all like to do our own things at times -- we all have our own hobbies -- but we also have a great time on and off the field. I am pretty low-key off the field. In the clubhouse, we are loose and everybody is really cool, even with some of our older players. I look at a guy like Jeff Francoeur, and he is one of the most tenured guys on our club, and he is only 27 years old. Nobody is salty. Some clubhouses probably feature some older players who probably come down hard on the rookies. We don't have that here. We feel we are equal.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How were you told that you were getting the call to KC a few weeks back?
Duffy: It was crazy. Everett Teaford had just gotten called up, and I told him, "Congrats, awesome job, hope I get to see you up there soon." I left the stadium, and I then got a text from our pitching coach saying I needed to come right back for a team meeting. I figured I was late for it, so I had my fine money ready for our manager. He gave it to me for not congratulating Teaford and for leaving early. I told him I did, and he said, 'I guess he is going to have to return the handshake because you are heading up, too." I was really shocked. It was amazing. It was an awesome day.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Last year at this time you briefly "retired" from pro baseball. What positives have you taken from that experience?
Duffy: Probably just the fact that I knew I belonged here. That I knew I was meant to play baseball. This game can help me do a lot of things; it can open a lot of doors. A lot of opportunities can get created through this game. I love playing this game, and it sort of took three months to get that cemented into my head. It's all good.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Your dad was a very good water polo player in college and then a long-time coach at a successful high school water polo program. Why did you not play that sport?
Duffy: I just liked baseball so much. Water polo is a cool sport, but I was always thinking about baseball. I played basketball as well. I had a lot going on. I am not a big fan of the aquatics, I guess.
MLBPLAYERS.com: And your mom was a really good softball player, right?
Duffy: She was. She was part of her high school's first softball team in Santa Barbara, and she was a stud. She was awesome. She was catching my bullpens though my first couple of years in high school, and I was hitting the 80s.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How supportive have your parents been of your career?
Duffy: They were always there for me, and a lot of people don't have that. Some people just go off into the world, and they don't have any of that support. Even when I took the time off last summer, they were really supportive. I could not ask for a better set of parents.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.