Giants Adam Duvall: Breakout or Bust?


When the Salt Lake Bees began using humidors this season to store game balls in an effort to keep balls moist, Smith’s Ballpark (home of the Bees) was supposed to become more pitcher-friendly. 

Apparently, Sacramento River Cats’ third baseman Adam Duvall, a prospect of the San Fransisco Giants, never got that message. He hit for the full cycle last Sunday afternoon.

On the day, Duvall actually tallied one more hit than necessary — a scorching double off the centerfield wall — and finished 5-6. 

This hasn’t been Duvall’s first brush with history: during a span of three May ballgames back in 2014, the slugger fell a single short of the cycle in one game and a triple shy of the feat in another.  

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We cannot expect Duvall to put up such numbers on an everyday basis, but he is certainly a prospect worth watching this season. He already has 28 games of big leagues experience. Plus, he recently ranked as the Giants’ 19th best organizational prospect according to

Offensively, Duvall has breezed through the Giants’ minor league system, showcasing a a now-rare elite power tool. His career minor league OPS sits at an impressive .875. In 2014, he raised that number even higher to .959 and blasted 27 home runs to boot.

However, my concern with Duvall lies not is bat itself, but rather in his plate discipline and defensive limitations.

He owns a career 19.5 strikeout percentage, which is standard for power hitters. And he counters these excessive whiffs by walking in only 7.4% of at-bats. Even this season, where Duvall is batting a career-high .424, his walk rate has dropped to a minuscule 5.6%.

Another potential area of worry for Duvall is his defense. As Minor League Ball’s John Sickels claims “he’s merely mediocre at third base.” Given his hefty frame (6’1” 205), Duvall’s body may fit more at first base that third in the long term.

To earn a starting job that way, though, the former 11th round pick would have to unseat face of the franchise Buster Posey, a highly unlikely scenario. 

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If Duvall really wants to be a major league player, his best route is through developing his defense and sticking at third. The Giants cannot be happy sending out Casey McGehee at the hot corner an everyday basis. Besides the fact that McGehee is 34, the veteran is hitting only .163 and is rapidly proving his strong 2014 season was a fluke.

As 2015 progresses, Duvall continues to post impressive numbers and put himself in position for a late-season call-up.

His bat is ready, evidenced by his cycle last week. Still, the 26-year-old certainly does have some flaws in his game.

But if he can grow into an serviceable defender at third and improve his batting eye, a powerful hit tool should carry him to major league success.

And even if his defense and discipline fail to improve, I believe Duvall can still find a home as a power-hitting pinch-hitter in the National League.

Now it turns to you: will Duvall play enough defense to be a starter for the Giants? Or is he merely a bench bat or organizational depth?

Mar 23, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Adam Duvall (37) looks on during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Statistics provided via Baseball-Reference and MLBFarm