Left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy, one of the Royals’ top pitching prospects, appears to be three weeks away from competitive action after returning to the organization’s year-round complex in Surprise, Ariz., in order to resume his career.
“We’re treating him like it’s spring training,” said assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, the assistant general manager for scouting and player development.
“He says he feels great. He’s done some throwing, but he hasn’t been throwing to catchers.”
Duffy, 21, made no public statement when he left camp on March 24 but remained in touch with club officials over the last 10 weeks. He returned Tuesday night to the Surprise complex, where the Royals are currently conducting extended spring training.
“We just tried to deal with it like you would with (an injury or) anything else,” Picollo said. “He’s a young kid. His heart wasn’t into it at the time. He was just going through some questions in his life.”
Duffy entered the spring ranked by Baseball America as the eighth-best prospect in the organization after going 19-10 with a 2.49 ERA in 52 games since his selection in the third round of the 2007 draft.
The Royals invited Duffy this spring to big-league camp in recognition that he might be ready to pitch in the majors prior to the end of this season. He suffered an elbow injury early in camp but appears fully recovered.
“We’d like to try to get him going in three weeks,” Picollo said. “It will be a scripted bullpen role if we do that. He’ll go two innings, then three innings and so on until we can eventually get him into the rotation.”
Duffy pitched last season in the All-Star Futures Game, an honor reserved for the game’s top prospects and was the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year in 2008.