Duda at Instructs After Fine Rookie Season

Duda hit .299 with 4 HR and 32 RBI this season

Lucas Duda, the 7th round draft pick in 2007 draft, came to Brooklyn with three years of college experience at a prominent NCAA program, giving his game a solid foundation. In his rookie season, the first baseman posted impressive numbers, but headed down to St. Lucie to work on elements of his game which still need work, namely his swing and defense.

The 21-year-old left-hander got off to a rocky start in his first dozen games, hitting under .220 with just four RBI and only four walks. But for Lucas Duda, that was not going to slow him down. Through the motivation of Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo and coach Guadalupe Jabalera, he would worked through the early struggles and started on a path that eventually led to him hit .299 coupled with a .398 on-base percentage this season.

"Javy and Fonzie were great. They just told me to keep pushing through it, to have fun out there, keep swinging the bat and keep working. It was real positive reinforcement all around," he said.

As the season went on, Duda kept heating up. His .286 June batting average climbed to .351 in July as his hit total and power numbers increased. His ability to slide right into the NY-Penn League and find comfort at the plate can be attributed to the maturity he earned while at USC.

Secondly, and most importantly for him, he was able to take advantage of the healthy dosage of fastballs he received from the inexperienced NY-Penn League pitchers.

"I was seeing a lot of fastballs, so I took advantage of that. I'm a fastball hitter so that worked out well for me," he said.

Despite the robust numbers in a successful rookie campaign, Duda recognizes he has a large amount of work to do on his swing, which is one significant area he hopes to correct while at St. Lucie.

"I really need to quiet down my hands, and get my timing with my leg kick, making sure my leg is coming down as my swing comes forward. Basically, I need to make sure my swing is nice and fluid. I need to get flat earlier in the zone," explained Duda.

The result of the elongated swing has led to inconsistencies, skewed mechanics, and has diminished his ability to time secondary pitches, specifically changeups.

"I'm not seeing the changeup solidly. It's really a timing thing," he said. "I'm getting out in front of them, and I end up blooping them to left or rolling them to short. So, I'm trying to stay back longer and let the ball come into the zone. I want to get to the point where I take it to left field on a line drive, and really just drive in the changeup in general."

The end he hopes to achieve is a greater ability to drive the ball to all fields. All too often as a lefty with respectable power, he got too pull-happy by jumping at pitches instead of staying loose in the batter's box.

"I have a tendency to pull the ball too much. Sometimes in BP, I'll try to hit the ball as far as I can and that's really a bad approach. It can carry over to the game and that really just does not help me. I need to keep my hands back and focus on going the other way with line drives," he said.

"I thought my patience was alright, but it needs a lot of improvement. I started to get more comfortable in the box and recognize pitches better. I just needed to be relaxed and play baseball instead of going out there all wound up and uptight," he continued.

On the other side of the field, Duda will continue to work on his defense at first base while at Instructs. During the season, in part because Jason Jacobs' saw time at first base, Duda patrolled the outfield on occasion. Yet with his future shaped at his natural position, he will continue to work and progress his glove work.

"I know my future is likely to be at first base," he said. "I'm working on the finer points, my throwing, where I need to be when the play is away from me, all of that."

"It's really a helpful experience working down here with all the instructors. It's early but I can see how this experience is going to pay off next year."

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