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November 17, 2005

The - AFL Top Prospects 6-10
by SG

Moving away from the big league team for a bit, I saw an interesting article in today.

Eric Duncan Mashed in the AFL

By James Renwick

Date: Nov 17, 2005

With the help of three team affiliated Major League scouts, a director of player development, and two AFL players, all of whom were granted anonymity, has put together a list of the 25 top prospects in the AFL. Here are the prospects ranking 10-6.


The final rankings were determined by James Renwick, who covers the AFL for Anyone with more than 130 Major League at bats, or more than 50 Major League innings pitched is disqualified (sorry Matt Murton and Casey Daigle), and anyone with less than 75 AFL at bats, or 20 AFL innings (sorry Jeff Clement and Wade Townsend) is also exempt from the list. So on we go, to the AFL Top 25.

#10 Eric Duncan 3B/1B New York Yankees

Eric Duncan hit just .235 in the Double-A Eastern League this season, and typically no amount of AFL success would vault a player into the Top 10 after that, but Eric Duncan is a special case.

"You look at the adjustments he made in the AFL, and the fact that he was learning a new position," our Senior scout said, "and you just have to be impressed."

What was impressive? How about a .364 average and eight homers in just 94 at bats. Duncan was on fire for the majority of the AFL season, hitting safely in 17 of the 23 games he appeared in.

"I doubt he's going to be starting at Yankee Stadium next year or anything," our AL scout said, "but he will be eventually, you just can't keep a bat like that out of the lineup."

The lineup isn't the problem, the position is. After a miserable year with the glove at third base the Yankees had Duncan working on the other corner in the AFL, but it's unclear whether that was because they don't think Duncan can play third, or whether they don't think Duncan would have the chance.

"You have to remember," our Director of Player Development said, "they've got a pretty decent third baseman right now. I know Alex Rodriguez switched positions for Jeter, but I'm not sure he's moving to second base for a rookie."

That would seem unlikely, however the since the Yankees situation at first base has been a little more turbulent, that might be a spot where he could break in. Still, at least one of our analysts thinks Duncan might see time in the bigs next year.

"I don't know, I mean, even if he isn't the best fielder, they still have the DH in the American League right?" one of our players said, "If he comes out next year in Double-A and mashes the way he did down here, they've got to take a look. I don't care if he's young, he's that good."

It's very encouraging to read these comments from scouts. Duncan had a less than stellar year in AA, but he was young for the league. The AFL has typically been compared to AA, so it was encouraging to see him break out there, although of course the sample size is small.

I'm not a prospect maven, but I try to read as much as I can on these players. It does seem that Duncan won't be able to see the majors as a third baseman, but I wonder why the Yankees aren't considering him in an OF corner instead of at 1st? If he can play 3rd, he should have the arm for RF, and he would be more valuable. I'd at least have him split time out there.