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Elijah Dukes

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On November 3rd, I noted that Tampa Bay's Elijah Dukes would be a 2007 sleeper no matter your league's depth.  All he needed was 400 ABs.  On December 5th, I advised everyone to not let anything dissuade one from treating Dukes as an elite 2007 prospect.

Following Elijah Dukes' Opening Day HR at Yankee stadium in his first official at-bat, the flood of articles should begin arriving.  ESPN.com's Amy K. Nelson has the first and is a great read if you're unfamilar with Mr.  Dukes' background.  Here is the link.

I have clearly been a proponent of Elijah Dukes as a baseball player.  His combination of power and speed along with an rapidly-improving plate discipline makes him an obvious favorite of fantasy players everywhere.  By selecting him three season ago before he broke into the mainstream of prospect touting, I am also vested in seeing him do well as a tribute to my fantasy scouting ability.

However, I still find his story compelling.  Maybe this quote from Ms. Stewart's article is why.

Watch Dukes before the game, watch how he interacts with fans and socializes with them. There's a reason.

"You don't get paid unless people watch," says Dukes, who will spend hours signing every last autograph. "I respect them sitting out there in the sun with me. It will be real hot out there, and you see them with their fans and umbrellas just sweating. That's loyalty right there. If they're going to be loyal to you, you at least have to be loyal to them.

"There are no VIPs; you don't just get to walk onto a baseball field. We all were on the other side of the fence looking in at one point."

How can anyone not cheer for him?

Update [2007-4-4 21:54:14 by Eric Hz]: From the Chris Kline chat:

Matt (The Rays Report): In line with the feature article on ESPN, what do you think of Elijah Dukes, future perenial all-star?

Chris Kline: (3:28 PM ET ) We did essentially the same story last year, though I think it was called 'Duke Of Hazard' or something aong those lines. I thought future perennial all-star two years ago . . . but you keep thinking 'when is this guy going to lose it?' That's the thing with him--he'll just flip out when you least expect it. Personally, I really like Elijah and he's been through a ton of stuff. But there is a side of him that's not so nice. If he can keep that in check, he's going to be an unreal talent. If not, he's going to be on the crawl on every major news outlet in the country at one point or another. Major amount of risk involved.