Occasionally, when a team is not having a great season, their lone selection for the All-Star Game is not having the best season, and has only made it because the team needed someone to represent them. That’s not the case with Adam Duvall. The Reds have not had a year to remember, but Duvall has established himself as one of the best power hitters in baseball this season. He’s a worthy All-Star, and even more worthy of participating in the Home Run Derby, which he will do tonight at 8:00 eastern on ESPN.
It’s been quite a journey for Duvall to make it to this point. Many scouts never thought he would come close to it. But here he is, thriving in the majors and crushing home runs at an alarming rate.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. He’s Second in the NL in Home Runs So Far This Season
Don’t be fooled by the low batting average and on-base percentage Duvall has. They’re actually an improvement from his first two short stints in the major leagues. If anything the fact that he’s slugging .551 is even more impressive considering how much power he needs to get there with a .249 average and .288 OBP.
His 23 home runs are second in the National League, behind only Kris Bryant and tied with Nolan Arenado. Those are two of the brightest young stars in baseball, and he has kept up with them. He’s also got them beat in “at-bats per home run” statistic, where he’s first in the NL, hitting a home run in every 13.1 at-bats. In addition, he’s 6th in the NL in RBIs, 7th in extra base hits, and 9th in slugging percentage.
2. He Was an 11th Round Draft Pick By the San Francisco Giants Who Exceeded Expectations in the Minors
That’s an impressive haul of statistics consider where Duvall started. He was drafted in just the 11th round by the San Francisco Giants. Only so much is expected of such a mid-level draft pick in baseball, but he established himself as a big-time power threat very quickly. In 2012, he hit 30 home runs in a season in A-ball. He would later go on to hit 30 home runs combined for two AAA teams in 2015. He also had three additional minor league seasons with a home run total of over 20.
This was impressive consistency for a prospect who was never highly ranked or valued. SB Nation recalled Duvall as a player who was able to exceed the slight expectations placed on him.
Scouts have been waiting for Adam Duvall to fail, but it hasn’t happened yet. His ’13 numbers at Double-A Richmond are actually better than his ’12 numbers for High-A San Jose once context is considered: his wRC+ went from 105 to 114, as he continued to show good power despite moving into a more difficult park/league context. The former 11th round pick from the University of Louisville doesn’t have great tools, but he can thump the ball and is particularly effective against left-handed pitching.
3. His First Major League Home Run Was Off Pitcher Mike Leake, Who He Was Later Traded For
On June 26th, 2014, Adam Duvall was getting a taste of the Major Leagues in his first season with the San Francisco Giants. Facing Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds, Duvall sent a pitch into the stands in left field for his first hit and home run in the majors.
This was not the first time Duvall and Leake would cross paths, however. 13 months later, Adam Duvall was traded to Cincinnati at the deadline as part of a package for San Francisco. The Giants received, of course, Mike Leake. It was an effort by the Giants to shore up their rotation for a playoff push. They did not make the playoffs, and in the offseason Leake signed with the Cardinals. Duvall, meanwhile, is making a name for himself still in Cincinnati.
4. He Played College Ball at the University of Louisville
Duvall played for Louisville, but it wasn’t immediate. A Louisville native, he went to high school at Butler Traditional High School, where he was a shortop. He hit .375 in his final year there and was named All-Region. From there, however, he moved not to U of L, but to Chipola Junior College, where he helped lead the team to the Junior College World Series in his only season there. He hit .340 with 11 home runs.
From there, however, he successfully transferred to Louisville. Like in high school and junior college, he impressed, earning a spot on the First Team All-Region (ABCA) and Third Team All-Big East in 2009.
5. Duvall Was Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes
2012 saw Duvall hit 30 home runs in the minors, but also saw him deal with great adversity. Duvall was struggling with weight loss, and tests confirmed that he had Type 1 diabetes. It took time for him to get to an accurate dosage of insulin, but eventually that year he was able to regain weight and continue playing.
Duvall told Cincinnati.com, “I’ve always eaten well, that’s why at first I was confused… Then I found out Type 1 is your genes and there are quite a few people in my family that have diabetes.” Duvall manages his diabetes during the game by keeping an insulin pump on him, in his back pocket.