BUFFALO, NY - The expectations for Nick Evans were not high when the 2010 season began. Yet, after a…
Lucas Duda On His Way To New York
It's not very often that a ballplayer makes the jump from Double-A to Triple-A and puts up better numbers in the latter location. But then again, Buffalo Bisons left fielder Lucas Duda is not your everyday type of player.
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Duda is a menacing figure in the batter's box and even more freakish looking in the outfield. The former first baseman is still learning his craft in the outfield but has made serious strides since making the switch full time at the beginning of the season.
There hasn't been much improvement needed at the plate, however, for Duda who exploded on to the scene shortly after his promotion to Triple-A on June 13. In 70 games with the Bisons, he hit .314 with 17 homeruns and 53 RBI which topped the Bisons' roster and was second only to Mike Hessman, who was in New York at the time of Duda's promotion, for the season lead.
On August 31st, Duda achieved yet another first when he was added to the 40-man roster and promoted to New York. The 2007 seventh round pick deserved every bit of that promotion after a torrid stretch of production ever since he put on a Triple-A uniform.
From June 28 through July 2, Duda hit a homerun in five straight games for the Bisons, which tied a team record. He has won International League Player of the Week honors once this season and hit a two-run walk-off homerun on August 6 to beat the Columbus Clippers.
Although the 24-year-old budding star has plenty of reasons to buy into his own hype, Duda continues to be extremely humble and consistently put the team before himself.
"Everything being equal, my focus is on helping the team win," Duda said. "Batting average or whatever doesn't really matter at this point. I think winning is more important than anything else."
Whether Duda wants to admit it or not there has definitely been a change in his game. His approach at the plate is better than ever. He has displayed patience consistently all season and is hitting the ball to all fields.
Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell was impressed with Duda all season but knew before he arrived in Buffalo that he had the ability he is showing.
"He can hit," Oberkfell said after a recent game where Duda hit two doubles for his fourth multi-hit game in August. "He's a threat every time we walks up to the plate. What I like is that he is using the whole field. He's hitting the ball to left-center and he's able to pull the ball so we just got to get some runners on for him."
The change of scenery has done wonders for Duda who wasn't having a bad year by any account down in Binghamton. He hit .286 with six home runs and 34 in 45 games with the Double-A B-Mets before his first promotion of the year.
His play has reached a new level since his promotion to Buffalo, and ultimately New York, and his demeanor in the clubhouse has changed. Duda has gone from a typical young ballplayer to a confident power hitter in mere months.
Yet, Duda swears that he hasn't changed much since coming to Buffalo.
"I haven't changed my approach or anything like that from Double-A to Triple-A," Duda said. "My talent hasn't changed or anything like that. I don't know, I guess it's just a better atmosphere. If I had the answer I would have changed it a long time ago."
Adjusting to life in the outfield is still a work in progress for Duda. While he has made strides, he must get much better to avoid being a liability on a Major League club. He lacks the speed and quickness to track down long line drives and that could be the difference in a game.
With that said, Duda has displayed a top notch work ethic ever since arriving in Buffalo and odds are that he will work as hard as he can to become as good as possible in the field.
"In the outfield [I've been working on] catching fly balls," Duda said. "I've also focused on making routine plays and playing the game right."
The sky seems to be the limit for Duda as he continues to improve and work on his game. While he will get his opportunity to make an impression with the big league club in September, going into the winter and spring training next season Mets fans will certainly be following the big outfielder as they hope for him to further improve—this time in the big leagues.
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