The San Francisco Giants called up infield prospect Adam Duvall from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday in the wake of Angel Pagan’s move to the disabled list, and he immediately made his presence felt in his major league debut the following day.
In his third at-bat of the game against Reds starter Mike Leake, Duvall homered over the left field wall, making him the 13th Giants hitter to homer in his debut game since 1919. But the strong first game aside, why should you consider a hitter who MLB.com says isn’t even one of the team’s 20 best prospects?
Here’s why: The guy can rake. In 263 at-bats at Triple-A, Duvall hit 23 homers and drove in 67 runs, putting him on pace for 52 and 153 in a 600 at-bat season. He also hit .297 with a .980 OPS and scored 48 runs.
That was no anomaly either. Though Duvall struggled last season, he still hit 17 homers in 385 at-bats, and that came just after a 30-homer, 100-RBI, 100-run season at High-A in 2012. So yeah, he can put up fantasy numbers in a hurry, so long as his production translates to the major leagues.
There’s no doubt that playing time is a serious concern with Duvall, who has only been able to start at first base thanks to a chain of injuries. (Pagan’s move to the DL allowed Duvall to crack the big league squad, but he needed Michael Morse’s illness and Brandon Belt’s absence to actually start at first base.) Once Pagan returns from the DL, Duvall could also find himself back at Triple-A. Maybe.
Duvall's fantasy value is in the hands of Giants manager Bruce Bochy. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)
But let’s look at a best-case scenario: With second baseman Joe Panik struggling (three errors, .174/.240/.217), he could be sent down to Fresno instead of Duvall, and if the latter carries over his hot hitting from Triple-A to the majors, he could even see time at second base in the wake of a potential Panik demotion.
Though he hasn’t spent time at second since 2010, when he played 26 games there, Duvall has still played infield exclusively since then (third and first base, to be specific), and while the transition could take some work, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Given the Giants’ current slide, they’d probably be open a little creativity. Brandon Hicks and Panik haven't gotten the job done, so why not Duvall?
But even if Duvall doesn’t see significant playing time for the rest of the season, he should certainly be on your radar, especially if you’re in a keeper league. The potential for cheap power like this doesn't come around very often, and better yet, Duvall isn't just a one-dimensional player. He has twice hit .285 or better in the minors, including his .297 performance at Triple-A this year, and he scores and drives in runs at an excellent rate.
In smaller leagues or those without a lot of roster spots, Duvall has little relevance this season. But in deep leagues, he could be a hidden gem. And for those of you who can't use him this year, don't forget about him next season. He might not set the world on fire à la Mike Trout, but while he's still a relatively well-kept secret, use Adam Duvall to your advantage.