The Fresno Grizzlies season is drawing to a close. The Grizzlies will be participating in the Triple-A playoffs that will begin on September 9th at home. Amazingly, the Grizzlies are one of six Astros farm teams to reach the playoffs this season, which is pretty impressive and shows the depth of the system.
Despite a recent cold streak, Fresno looks to finish with the second-best record in the PCL with an 82-58 record as of last night’s win. The league had to look for a player who made a big difference for their team, and who has been with the team for a significant time. Fresno has had a high turnover rate, with players going up the Astros this season.
But, there is a guy that has stayed in Fresno all season and has had success down there, his name is Matt Duffy. This player is not the same Matt Duffy that plays for the Giants; this is an Astros prospect who was drafted in the 20th round of the 2011 draft by the Astros. He is 26-years-old and is currently in his fifth season in the minor leagues in the Astros organization.
He is not a top prospect, but the numbers say that he has something special in his minors career.
2015 Fresno Grizzles: .295/ .368/ .477/ .845 with 18 homers, 102 RBI’s, and four stolen bases.
Duffy could have been called up to replace Chris Carter at some point this season. However, the Astros choose not to add him to the 40-man roster for the season. But, they will have to make a decision soon on whether to protect him in the MLB Rule V draft in his first year of eligibility. If he were one of the players that the Astros were going to protect, they should have already added him so they can get more efficient play at first base. Instead, they decided to stick with Carter, who might not even avoid a roster cut in the offseason.
What will the Astros do with Duffy in 2016 and beyond? He clearly has shown that he does not belong in Triple-A, so another season there will be pointless. Let’s assume that Carter is out of the picture next year, Duffy will still have to contend with Jon Singleton, Tyler White, and A.J. Reed. Duffy can play a little third base as well, but he will have to contend with Jed Lowrie, Colin Moran, and J.D. Davis. Luis Valbuena might be around next season for the Astros as well, so it’s hard to find a place for him.
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Duffy could be a utility type of corner infielder for a good Astros team, but finding a place for him to play will be tricky. The Astros could use his enhanced trade value from his great play this season to use to upgrade at a particular position. With the process, the Astros will have many players coming up in this circumstance, where they are blocked or have better talent coming up behind them. This was Jeff Luhnow’s master plan, to have a constant influx of talent in house.
With this system, there will be some J.D. Martinez‘s that slip through the cracks because the Astros can’t protect them all. I hope this is not the case with Duffy, but he should have already been on the Astros team this year.