Matt Duffy is the reigning Pacific Coast League MVP, can play both 3B and 1B, and has a longer professional track record than Moran or White. He is 26, right-handed, and currently on the 40-man roster, which gives him a distinct advantage over the other candidates.
Drafted 610th overall in the 20th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Duffy is a career .293 hitter with 80 home runs over MiLB five seasons. He struck out a career-best 92 times over 498 at-bats last year, down from 106 in 2012, 102 in 2013, and 106 in 2014. His 49 walks in 2015 were a career-high as well.
He slashed .294/.266/.484 with 144 hits, 20 HRs, and 104 RBIs at Triple-A Fresno. He also collected three hits in his nine plate appearances after being called up to the Astros on September 14 of last year.
Duffy notched his stellar 2015 without ever appearing on a top list or even an Astros top 10 prospects list. He is a testament to the Astros’ scouting ability and the ability of a player to grow and exceed expectations.
The backup third baseman’s job is his to lose, but keep an eye on Duffy if Valbuena struggles.
Next: J.D. Davis