Key Stats: (A+/AA): 112 Games, 20 HR, 1 Famous Father, .291/.352/.506
What happened in 2013
Drafted by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft (75th overall), Kelly Dugan began 2013 without much hype as a prospect. He was never a top 10 prospect but by the end of 2012, Dugan wouldn’t have made the top 20 on most lists, either.
His career never seemed to get much traction after he got off on the wrong foot, starting slow in his first years of pro ball and then missing time with injuries, including a nasty knee infection. More recently, he gave up switch hitting in favor of hitting exclusively on the left side.
Undaunted, Kelly never seemed to lose focus even as the spotlight moved away from him. He battled through his injuries and just kept plugging away. In 2012, Dugan finally managed a full season, logging 430 AB with Lakewood. Still, the prospect pundits were unimpressed.
During the off-season after 2012, Kelly worked on his overall game with Reggie Smith and on his strength and conditioning with personal trainers. Finally the hard work began to bear fruit in 2013 as Dugan had a breakout campaign.
Moving up from A+ to AA is the toughest jump on the development ladder and Dugan handled it well, mashing 20 HR (10 at each level) and driving the ball with authority. In AA, his walks all but disappeared and his strikeout rate remained high but he did continue to show pop against the more polished pitchers.
Impressed with his game, the Phillies placed Dugan on the on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. To cap off his season, Dugan was invited to the Arizona Fall League, although he missed the action due to an injured toe.
What to expect in 2014:
Listed at 6’3″ and 195 lbs, Dugan is a bit of a “tweener” physically: He isn’t especially fast or strong for his height, but he isn’t slow or weak either. Although a little improvement on both fronts would go a long way towards improving his chances. He needs to stay on the field, especially since his reputation of missing time will linger now that he missed the AFL.
Dugan will not be a base stealer, but he gets good jumps and covers ground. He has good pop and the power showed up for real in 2013. He’s a really good ballplayer but only the great ones make it.
This season will tell us a lot about Kelly Dugan as a prospect. He’s at a tenuous point in his career. In September Dugan will turn 24, an age where a prospect is expected to breakout and show everyone what kind of ballplayer he can be. Dugan will have that chance in 2014 but he can’t just tread water at AA, he needs to show clear progress.
I expect Dugan to follow-up with another solid campaign in 2014. If he can avoid the injury bug and stay on the field, he has a real chance at being called up this season when the rosters expand in the Fall.
Dugan may never be more than a back up outfielder in the majors but if he can work the count better while managing 20-25 HR in AA and AAA, he could blossom into a starter. I like his chances.