Name: Jon Duplantier
DOB: 7/23/1994 (Age 24)
Acquired: 3rd Round, 2016 MLB Draft
Most Notable Tool: Low 90s Fastball
Season Stats: 14 GS, 5-1, 2.69 ERA, 67 IP, 4 HR, 68/28 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP, 53.3% GB rate for AA Jackson
2018 Season Summary: After a strong 2017 campaign, Duplantier’s AA season was delayed 3 weeks by a hamstring injury at the tail-end of Spring Training. Duplantier made 7 starts before getting shelved for 2 months with biceps tendinitis. He came back for the final six weeks of the season to make 7 more starts at AA. Overall his numbers were pretty encouraging, it was the fact he endured another arm-related injury that hurt his stock a bit. Duplantier finished the season in the Fall League, where he put up impressive strikeout numbers but gave up a decent number of hits and walked hitters.
Tools: Fastball 60/60, Curveball 50/55, Slider 60/60, Change-Up 50/55, Command 45/55
Even though Duplantier has a good feel for 4 pitches, his command took a step back in 2018. The walks went up although the strikeouts in the fall league were impressive anyways. His fastball has good sink on it, which is why he produces strong ground ball rates everywhere he goes.
Upside: Duplantier has #1 starter potential with 4 pitches that project to be above average, although I think it’s more likely he settles into a middle of the rotation starter unless the command takes big steps forward. Duplantier doesn’t have a BABIP suppression skill, but he does have the ability to miss bats and induce a lot of ground ball contact. Despite higher walk rates in Visalia and Jackson, Duplantier made it work due to his ability to induce double plays.
Risk: Health is the biggest risk for Duplantier, a question that will never go away during his entire career. Duplantier has had three separate arm issues already in the last four years, each of which shut him down for a significant amount of time. I do believe a lot of it stems from his delivery, which adds a bit extra stress on the arm due to the unusual arm action in the acceleration phase. The second issue is command, can he limit the free passes? If he can reduce the walk rate, then I believe a top of the rotation starter is not out of the question.
Likely 2019 Assignment: There are two possibilities in play: the first is sending him to Jackson to start the year to prove that he’s healthy and ready for Reno. The second is just sending him there because it will force him to improve the command. Since Reno is hitter friendly, the key will be limiting walks and home runs. I’m not too worried about his ability to limit home runs due to a ground ball profile, but the walks are a legitimate concern.
ETA: 2019 Season