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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews, #56: Jon Duplantier

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A former top prospect is now a free-agent, in another case of potential that has yet to be achieved.

Los Angeles Angels v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • Rating: 2.00
  • Age: turned 27 on July 11
  • 2021 Stats: 13 IP, 19 H, 19 R, 19 ER, 5 HR, 8 BB, 12 SO, 13.15 ERA
  • 2021 Earnings: League minimum: Pre-arb
  • 2022 Status: Became minor-league free-agent on November 7.

DUP-There-he-was! I sat down to start this season review for one of my favorite “recent” D-Backs draft picks, only to find out he’s elected free agency as of November 7, 2021… After being reinstated from yet another trip to the Injury List. Poor man has a body that doesn’t want him to play Major League Baseball. MLB.com hints at only 5 trips since being signed, but that doesn’t seem right; I certainly feel like every time I checked his stats in the last four years or so, he’d been on the IL or shut down for injury-related things. (I say MLB.com hints at 5 because I don’t think it is as all-encompassing as it ought to be; he was signed to a minor league deal on 7/31/21, assigned to ACL DBacks on 8/4/2021, and his next transaction listed is being activated from the ACL DBacks’ 60-day IL on 11/5/2021).

But it does appear as if Duplantier has thrown his last pitches in Arizona Diamondbacks franchise colors - for now at least. And his time will most certainly be remembered by most as a highly anticipated prospect in a weak farm derailed by injuries. From being drafted until the beginning of his MLB career, Duplantier was a top prospect (8/30 in 2017, 1/30 in 2018 & 2019 and 15/30 in 2020). He even made it onto most of the preseason top 100 lists in both 2018 and 2019, e.g. #73 and #86 according to Baseball America.

But sadly this never translated to effective Major League Innings. In 2019, he had a 4.42 ERA in 36.2 MLB innings and much like everything DBacks in 2021, it only got worse: 13.15 ERA in only 13.0. This means he has a career 6.70 ERA in 49.2 IP. That’s a terribly small sample size for a career, but for a 27-year-old injury-prone guy, it’s telling. His prime as a pitcher should be about to begin; instead, he’s likely still in need of some development and a fully healthy season.

His individual 2021 stat lines are:

  • May 28, 2021 vs. St. Louis Cardinals 4.2IP, 7H, 4ER, 5Ks, 2BBs, 1HR
  • June 3, 2021 at Milwaukee Brewers 4.0IP, 4H, 5ER, 3Ks, 3BBs, 3HR
  • June 9, 2021 at Oakland Athletics 3.0IP, 2H, 4ER, 4Ks, 3BBs, 0HR
  • June 13, 2021 vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1.1IP, 6H, 6ER, 0Ks, 0BBs, 1HR

Unless I am mistaken (a distinct possibility, I assure you), these were all starts. Or at least, he was the first pitcher throwing for the good ‘ole snakes. It’s hard to look at the games separately or in aggregate and say anything other than “it only got worse as it wore on” though. To be fair, two of them were eventual playoff teams (albeit without the greatest October showings in 2021), and three contenders for the majority of the season.

But that Angels game (pictured, top)... good grief. He faced 12 batters and recorded 4 outs but gave up 6ER. HALF the batters he faced SCORED. The lineup was: Justin Upton, Jared Walsh, Max Stassi, Anthony Rendon, Jose Iglesias, Taylor Ward, Juan Lagares, Patrick Sandoval and David Fletcher. No Mike Trout to blame. Two of the four outs Duplantier recorded were against Rendon and Walsh; Rendon had a rough season but Walsh was a borderline breakout player for Anaheim this year (so small victories?). The damage was done by the rest of the lineup, but perhaps he can take away the silver lining of getting the big guys out to start and build on that in 2022.

Poor Jon went on the IL the next day (after the team optioned him to Reno) with a strained right middle finger. And for now, that is his last experience in the Majors. He was released by the team in late July, to free up a 40-man roster spot, then re-signed to a minor-league contract on July 31. It’s possible he may still remain with the organization: we’ll see.

I think for Dup’s sake, I should wrap this up soon; don’t want to beat a dead horse and all. Without a true 2021 highlight to end on, I’m going to take some liberty and reach back to his MLB debut on April 2, 2019 in San Diego when he pitched three innings in relief of Merrill Kelly to earn a Save! A genuinely excellent start for a young guy. He gave up one hit over those three innings, struck out 2 and most importantly, allowed zero runs or walks!

Best of luck landing with a team that can help you harness your potential Jon Duplantier!