Elijah Dukes

Old News – The Devil Rays assigned Delmon Young and B.J. Upton to Triple-A on Thursday while Elijah Dukes was sent to their minor league camp. All three moves were expected, although I did notice Delmon was the number one drop from the Yahoo! public leagues in recent days. Apparently not everyone was aware, as the drop was reported in the 1,000s causing me to wonder why when those leagues tend to be on the shallow side.

Both prospects sent to Triple-A are expected to play in the majors this season; Upton will continue to work on his defense and Young could use the time to gain some momentum. It’s a complicated outfield situation at present and the club will need to free up playing time for him by making a move or two.

Elijah Dukes

Dukes is a player I really like and a look around suggests I’m not the only one. I too have made the inevitable comparison to Milton Bradley for the anger, or dare I say it, rage management issue, but there’s also athletic and statistical similarities that bear noting.

Dukes versus Bradley

Statistics through the first three minor league seasons ending in Double-A at the same age (21).

 

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

CS

BB

SO

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Bradley

320

1225

224

366

73

16

28

178

60

40

120

213

0.298

0.362

0.453

0.815

Duke

338

1203

194

339

66

13

35

175

82

28

134

310

0.282

0.362

0.446

0.808

As you can see, there’s a striking similarity statistically, and the slugging numbers (.453,.446 resectively with both OBP’s at .362 ) in both cases are understated as the power is just beginning to emerge; the Double-A slugging was better than early in the career (.526 and .478 in third year).  The scouting report on Dukes is eerily similar to that of Bradley’s a few years back, complete with the negatives. But in comparing the two I find Dukes to project as bigger, stronger and faster, with a superior arm from right field As evidenced, he struck out at a higher rate, but the pace has become far less than his first season down to an 83/45 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 130 Double-A games in 2005.

 

As my man Gus Papadopoulos – Roto Wire  Beat Writer and area resident – points out, the emergence of Jonny Gomes, the return of Rocco Baldelli, and the organizational outfield situation as a whole probably leaves Dukes on the outside looking in. A trade seems likely given he’s best suited to right field, a spot destined for Delmon Young in the future.

I see a lot of potential with the negative of attitude and legal problems, but he’s known for a good work ethic despite it. A higher risk than you might like in a top prospect, but an exciting athlete that could pay dividends for the club that rolls the dice and antes up.

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