Jon Duplantier Delivered the Hits in His D-backs Debut

Twenty-three months ago, I wrote about how Jon Duplantier was no longer perfect. The previous day — May 2, 2017 — he’d allowed a pair of earned runs while pitching for the Low-A Kane County Cougars. Going into that game, Arizona’s third-round pick in the 2016 draft had a 0.00 ERA in 21.1 professional innings.

He’s still perfect in MLB. Duplantier debuted with the Diamondbacks two nights ago and tossed three scoreless frames against the San Diego Padres. He did so out of the bullpen, which likely isn’t his eventual home. When assessing this past season’s Arizona Fall League performers, our own Eric Longenhagen wrote that “Duplantier was arguably the best non-Whitley pitching prospect who was a lock to start.”

The former Rice Owl isn’t ranked as high as Forrest Whitley on our 2019 Top 100 Prospects list — the Astros phenom comes in at No. 4 — but Duplantier did make the cut at No. 87. He’s Arizona’s top pitching prospect for the second year running.

On an idyllic Monday evening in SoCal, he was on top of the world. Duplantier entered with his team up 9-3 — the final was 10-3 — and his post-game quotes encapsulated his emotions perfectly. As chronicled by D-backs beat writer Nick Piecoro, the 24-year-old righty described the experience as, “Sheer joy. I felt like a child and they were like, ‘Hey, go play. Run free, go play.’”

His workman-like performance — the only baserunner he allowed was erased on a double play — was made possible by what didn’t happen. Rather than let adrenaline wreak havoc with his delivery — a problem he’s had in the past — Duplantier stayed composed.

“Historically, I’ve gotten a little aggressive, kind of anxious,” Duplantier told me last month in D-backs camp. “As pitchers, we want to attack the hitters, just like they’re trying to attack us. Sometimes that leads to being overly aggressive. That’s been an issue for me. I’ve found myself wanting to get down the mound too fast.”

A big part of Pitching 101 is establishing a controlled balance point at the top of a delivery, then driving down off the mound. With that in mind, I asked the young right-hander if he could both expound on “too fast,” and explain what he’s doing to alleviate the issue.

“What happens is that I’ll start drifting home,” answered Duplantier. “That results in not getting my drive leg and my hips as low. My arm doesn’t have time to catch up. I’ll fly off, causing my [fastball] to go arm side or my breaking ball to go east-west instead north-south. Everything flattens out a little bit. So if I’m rushing… I mean, I’ve got a lot of junk in the trunk. If I start drifting, I can’t stop.”

The corrective measure he took was straightforward. His explanation came in the form of an analogy.

“The fix is at the top of my delivery,” informed Duplantier. “It’s to… not pause, but rather, for a split second, feel like, ‘If you want to stop, stop.’ Then it’s, ‘All right, now down.’ Does that make sense? It’s kind of like we’re trying to land an airplane. We drop down, then have a smooth landing, hitting the runway rolling.”

The articulate flamethrower offered an equally good analogy when elaborating on his history of getting too amped up. While problematic to an extent, the quality in question is a part of his game that — regardless of the tempo of his delivery — works in his favor.

“It’s been there ever since I started pitching,” said Duplantier, who passed up an opportunity to play quarterback at Yale University upon graduating from a Katy, Texas high school. “The competitor in me is like, ‘Ooh, I want to attack that hitter.’ Basically, I want to get the ball to the catcher as fast as possible. It’s like this linebacker mentality. Or maybe I should say it’s like this running back mentality, where I’ve got the ball and I’m going to be the one delivering the hit, rather than taking the hit. Know what I’m saying? It doesn’t really translate, because the batter can’t do anything before I do, but that’s still my mentality. I want to be the one doing the hitting.”

Eric Hosmer had an infield single against his power repertoire last night. The other eight batters who stood in the box were retired with relative ease. Calm, cool, and collected, Duplantier got down the mound just fine.

We hoped you liked reading Jon Duplantier Delivered the Hits in His D-backs Debut by David Laurila!

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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Was hoping someone would do something on him,thanks
Any idea if they’re just stretching him out in pen /when he might start?