After being in the Yankees organization seemingly forever, Shelley Duncan, 30, is a Baby Bomber no more after he left via free agency and signed with the Cleveland Indians this offseason.
For a couple of reasons his time with the Yankees is filled with mixed emotions. Sitting down with Tyler Kepner of the NY Times yesterday Duncan tried to explain his time here saying that he doesn’t like to dwell on the past, but that he can’t help wondering what life would have been like if he had been drafted by another organization. One positive he does bring out of it is that he felt like the Yankees possibly have prepared him for a second career, as a coach.
Here are excerpts from Kepner’s piece:
“It’s a complicated thing to talk about,” Shelley Duncan said. “I don’t like to think about it much. You really can’t control any of the stuff that happened over there. It’s like me and Eric talk every night. We just share thoughts every night about how things are so different. It’s fun to have someone to talk to who went through that same thing.”
Eric Duncan, 25, who is not in major league camp with the Braves, spent the last three full seasons at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In seven seasons as a Yankees’ minor leaguer, the Florham Park, N.J., native hit .242 with a .320 on-base percentage. A first and third baseman, he never hit more than 19 homers in a season.
“I feel really privileged to be in that organization for as long as I was,” Duncan said. “It would have been nice, and there would have probably been positives being in other organizations, but I think I learned a lot being in that one. You learn to play the game the right way, go about your business the right way. They do things right over there from the bottom up. I think being there as long as I was has set me up for a lifetime of lessons, or lessons that transcend my playing days.”
What kind of lessons?
“Like if I go into coaching, I have an aspect of how they went about their ways,” Duncan said. “It’s a whole different outlook on the game than being somewhere else for the whole time.”
Duncan agreed that the prestige of playing for the Yankees might lend some credibility in a future job. There is always part of him that will wonder how his life and career would have been different if he had been with another team. But he usually resists the urge to dwell on it.
“Everybody that’s been in that organization feels like they’ve been stuck before,” Duncan said. “We have what-ifs. But I don’t like to live by what-ifs.”
Thoughts: As a prospect Duncan is the epitome of a tweener. A guy good enough to dominate the minors, but not quite toolsy enough to do well at the major league level. He has a big swing which generates power, but he would undoubtedly struggle to hit for average in The Show. His defense wasn’t a detriment in the minors, but he was a man without a position in the Bronx.
He probably hits well enough to be a part-time role player on a weaker team, but never with the Yankees. With the right team he might have even been a decent piece of a platoon getting anywhere from 60-100 games in a year. But with the Yankees he never got that chance. Having his bat helping out one of their minor league teams was worth more than what little they would have gotten for him in return. Besides, if there ever was a emergency situation like there was in 2006 again where multiple outfielders at the major league level go down with injuries, Duncan would have been a better fill in than a typical outfielder stuck in the minors (think Jon Weber, who is probably the new Duncan).
I don’t expect much from Duncan now that he’s moved on past the Yankees, but he might surprise this Indians team and get some action in the Bigs. There certainly will be a lot of Yankee fans pulling for him.