Walt Jocketty did well to turn the remainder of Mike Leake’s contract into Keury Mella, a nearly 22 year-old starter with a high ceiling, albeit yet another one in an organization now overstuffed with them. Disregarding the redundancy of the return, snagging one of the best arms in another team’s farm system for the oft-undervalued Leake is a great deal, even if that system failed to land a single prospect on either Baseball Prospectus or Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 lists.

But, lest you think the Reds plan to go with a 10-man rotation in 2017 and play Tony Cingrani in the outfield, the Leake trade brought back the Reds’ first (and only) position player in a deadline deal—the big stick-carrying corner infielder, Adam Duvall.

Duvall’s name ought to be familiar to some, as he showed up in parts of the last three months of 2014 for the Giants, mostly filling in at first base while pinch hitting on occasion. He notched 77 plate appearances during San Francisco’s stretch run in the regular season, but struck out 20 times (to just three walks) while slashing a woeful .192/.234/.342.

And there’s the rub—Duvall ostensibly has but one tool to offer an MLB team, his power. Duvall’s ascent through the minors has been measured and steady, as he’s progressed one level per season since being drafted in 2010 (with the exception of his MLB call-up in 2014). Looking at his yearly stats, you can easily pick out the three statistics which have kept Duvall rising through the minors: His home runs, slugging percentage, and isolated slugging (which is the measurement of extra-base hit frequency by subtracting a player’s AVG from his SLG, abbreviated as ISO).

But Duvall is no slouch in the power department. He took advantage of his first full season of pro ball by blasting 22 homers in 116 Single-A games in 2011, posting a .527 SLG and a .241 ISO (with the latter number being lessened a bit by a .320 average on balls in play). He followed that up with a 30 home run campaign the following season at Class-A Advanced. A slight down year in Double-A (although he posted his second-best career walk rate and his lowest strikeout rate) was followed by 27 bombs in just 394 Triple-A plate appearances last season, resulting in a .599 SLG and a massive .301 ISO (interestingly enough, he again had a .320 BABIP).

But with that prodigious power come the hallmarks of the all-or-nothing hitter—a hefty amount of strikeouts and a walk rate well below 10%. In that 2012 season at Double-A Duvall only struck out in 16.7% of his plate appearances, but since he’s stayed above 20%, including posting a 26% strikeout rate in his major league stint last season.

Additionally, there’s not much defensive ability to speak of. His preferred minor league positions speak to that somewhat, as he’s gradually moved to first base from third over the last few seasons (though he’s also played 10 games in left field this season). In his MLB stint, he logged 148.1 innings at first base and displayed barely below-average defense. Unfortunately for Duvall, that position is blocked in his new organization by the Canadian God of On-Base Percentage.

Duvall is going to get a chance to adapt to left field, where his power-only value could play better provided he shows average defense or something close to it. His 2015 performance at Triple-A has been awfully close to his overall track record: a .279/.323/.545 slash line (with 26 HR in 437 plate appearances) and a 20.8% strikeout rate identical to his rate last year in Triple-A. The disconcerting element has been a career-low (not counting his MLB stint) 5.7% walk rate which needs to be improved upon.

Adam Duvall’s profile is such that the Reds would be happy enough for him to become a useful bench bat, the type the Reds haven’t had for a while. He’s just shy of 27 years old, meaning he’s unlikely to blossom into an above-replacement MLB starter, let alone a star, at this point. But if he can be taught a little more plate discipline to pair with that power, Duvall could be a useful complementary piece once the rebuild or “reboot” is complete.

27 Responses

  1. redsfan06

    Last time the Reds got an outfielder in a trade with the Giants they picked up George Foster. Maybe lightning will strike twice.

  2. Gaffer

    While I am not excited by Duvall, he is basically a cheap Marlon Byrd. There just are less and less solid hitters out there, especially low strikeout ones. His K percentage is not much worse than half of our current team (but that is the problem).

    • Bo

      I know it probably seems like the Reds batters strike out a lot but thru 102 games they have 738 strikeouts which puts them at #8 in the league for the LEAST strikeouts. 22 other MLB teams strikeout more than the Redlegs.

    • Tom Diesman

      Looking at his stats, he’s basically the RH version of Kyle Waldrop in 3 years, maybe a little better if he returns his previous BB% rates.

    • Tom Gray

      If he is Marlon Byrd II that’s great.

      Byrd has good power and plays good OF too.

      • Carl Sayre

        Calling Byrds defense good may be stretching it. He still has good instincts but he is slow. The issue I see is the balls that drop it seems like he takes forever to get to them turning what should have been a single into a double.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Counting the number of balls a player drops isn’t a very complete measure of his defensive ability. Range and arm are more important factors – they vary more from player to player. It’s not Marlon Byrd’s fault he was asked to play a new position this year. But the defensive metrics are unanimous about him being a big defensive liability. One of the worst defensive players in MLB. To the point where it substantially offsets his offensive output.

      • Tom Gray

        I didn’t say GG. I said he plays good OF. And he does. Not great. Good.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The people whose job it is to watch every one of his plays and measure such things against other players disagree.

  3. Obc2

    Terry Lee v2.0

    I dont expect to see Duvall at GABP much, if at all. His defense anywhere other than 1B is unplayable.

    • Indy Red Man

      I watched Adam Dunn pick up a ball on the warning track and whirl around and throw it to the centerfield warning track. How much worse can Duvall be?

  4. sezwhom

    The never ending LF saga under WJ’s watch continues. I wish Duvall all the best but I’m doubtful we see much of him next year.

    • DHud

      I really don’t think they’re looking at him as the answer in LF. More like a potential bench bat and the ability to play LF would give him a little more versatility to justify being on the roster

    • Hotto4Votto

      Winker is the answer to LF. He may just be a bit longer off than originally anticipated. But he has an advanced plate approach and should hit for better power in GABP.

      I agree with DHUD in they’re not looking at him as the answer to LF. But if they’re expecting him to be on the bench, having a position other than 1B to fill in at is going to be of some use. The reports on his defense at 3B are pretty rough.

    • tct

      Yeah, I think they’re hoping for a bench bat with pop who can play left in a pinch and be a back up for Votto. The Reds bench could be pretty solid next year, assuming Meso and Cozart cone back strong. You would have Tucker, Suarez, DeJesus, Yorman, Duvall or Waldrop. Another possibility would be a Duvall/Waldrop left field platoon.

      • lwblogger2

        Honestly though, I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have Josh Satin for that role. He doesn’t have the pop but he gets on base and can hit some liners around the yard.

    • Tom Gray

      Maybe you missed it but Ryan Ludwick had 26 HR and 90 RBI in 2012 as Reds LF.

      The next year, he badly injured his shoulder. It’s really hard for MLB players to hit with power with an injured shoulder.

      • lwblogger2

        Luds did have a really nice season his first season in Cincy. It was a shame about his injury. He may have had another strong campaign had it not happened. Where Jocketty failed is actually in your second statement. As a power hitter, everyone knew that Ludwick, if he came back at all that season, was unlikely to hit for much power. Jocketty failed to go out and get a rental when he knew that Ludwick probably wouldn’t be the same player coming back from the injury.

  5. RedAlert

    He is 2-2 already tonight for Louisville – and one of those hits was a home run

  6. Tom Gray

    I like the players the Reds got in return for Leake, who was GONE as FA regardless.

    The SP has good promise but is a couple years away. Duvall has a good chance to make the Reds roster in 2016.

    • preacherj

      Agreed. Anyone else remember the time when Joey was hurt and we didn’t have a soul on the roster who could play first? It will be nice to have someone with a power threat to come off the bench late.

      If the kid can hit .270 with a couple of dozen bombs, I’m not that concerned about the K’s.

      Also, a power threat will be less likely to be called upon to bunt……

      • Shchi Cossack

        If Duvall hits .270 with 20+ HR, he’s the starting LF and who cares about his defense. I just don’t think his minor league hitting will translate to the major league level, even as a bench option. With that said, a 20% SO% isn’t unmanageable and a true ppower hitter with a BB% over 5% can provide value. I hope Duvall will recognize and seize the opportunity laid out before him. I think a heart-to-heart discussion with Bruce might be useful after seeing Bruce’s progress and efforts over the past 3 seasons (sans injury) finally starting to pay off.

  7. Anthony

    The reds need to fire all scouts since we have nothing in the minor leagues. For years, we’ve heard the same old stories of you arms in the system. Besides cueto, who else has been effective? Please don’t blurt out Homer Bailey. Look at mike Leake’s overall career record vs homer’s, and you tell me why jocketty signed Bailey. I don’t get it.

    There is a culture of ignorance in the reds front office that the cardinals did not want to deal with. No more should you draft a guy because he’s fast(Billy Hamilton), A guy who looks like the next great thing( Lorenzen), or some big kid who should hit 50 homeruns(Kearns). Whether the reds like it or not, analytical stats are here to stay.

    When luhnow left the cardinals, the astros got the Christmas present of a lifetime. A guy who is stats driven, who single handedly turned the astros into winners for now and the future. If jocketty and right hand man Buckley still refuse to accept the premise of analytics, the reds will have more Homer Baile’y’s, Jay Bruce’s, Zack Cozarts, and all outfielders drafted since Bruce from 2005.

    It’s time to change. Stop hoarding pitchers. Start drafting better college outfielders. We’re gonna have to keep trading our best players for other organizations better players. We should all be embarrassed by that.

    • Tom Gray

      The Reds have some decent (even good) prospects in MiLB now. Stephenson and Winker at or near the top of the list. Others like Garrett, Bandino, Aquino (et al) are at lower levels but still good prospects.

    • lwblogger2

      Geez… Ok, Bruce is a very good (not elite) OF. Made a few All-Star teams and was awarded 3 Silver Sluggers. I’ll take that. He’s also having a nice year after an awful year last year.

      Bailey, let’s see… He was rushed to the Majors and struggled. Then signed an extension with the Reds after 2 very strong years. The Reds paid him as a solid 2 or very-strong #3 starting pitcher. The AAV was reasonable for that type of pitcher, which was what Bailey was the prior two seasons. I didn’t like the length of the deal mostly because of the injury risk to pitchers but there is still a chance that Bailey can recoup a chunk of the contract’s value.

      I like the idea of drafting more college OF. I also like the idea of the Reds being more metrics and analytics driven. I would also agree that the Reds need to put some more emphasis on hitters, especially now that they’ve got a good stockpile of pitchers. I will caution though that just analytics isn’t the key. It’s the right analytics and also getting everyone in the organization on the same page. Look at the RedSox the last couple years. They are very analytically inclined but they’re a really bad team. You still need to have good scouts and baseball people.