Once general wrangling this off-season ends over who should be in the top few spots on Phillies prospects lists, there will be plenty of interesting discussion about some of the guys who may show up in the middle of the pack on a top-20 or top-30 list.
One such interesting case will be Kelly Dugan, who, when healthy, put together a nice season in 2014. It’s easy to feel bad for Dugan, who, at 24, was hoping to put together a full campaign. In the end, Dugan appeared in just 76 games and had only 253 at-bats. It was a stark contrast from his 2013, when he had 429 at-bats.
Dugan’s 2013 was marked by a standout period in Clearwater (.318/.401/.539) and a decent enough stint in Reading (.264/.299/.472). Of course, at 22, Hi-A ball should not have been too troubling for Dugan, so the promotion to Reading was a bit of a test to see if he was ready.
The numbers were strong in 2014 for Dugan, as he hit .296/.383/.435. The trouble? Staying on the field. An oblique injury sidelined him for about two months, and a broken foot caused him to miss the tail end of the season.
That said, there was a point where Dugan finally looked like the alpha dog that he should look like on a AA team. It’s likely that Dugan will never be an All-Star or punch a ticket to Cooperstown, but there is a realistic opportunity for Dugan with the Phillies.
There will be a chance for Dugan to impress, simply due to the current makeup of the team’s outfield. Domonic Brown is coming off a rough season. Ben Revere is likely cemented in center field, but anything could happen with him. Marlon Byrd could be the talk of the trade deadline again if the Phillies are out of the race next year.
That could open a door for Dugan. If he’s healthy and plays well to begin 2015 in the Minors, he’ll be on the Phillies’ radar. Ideally, Dugan is a fourth outfielder on a good team. There is plenty of use out there for the Nate Schierholtzes and Gerardo Parras of the world. That type of guy is valuable.
Dugan has hit both lefties and righties well in the Minors, a trait that not a lot of younger guys like him have developed. He has a career minor league OPS of .833 against lefties (as a lefty, there was a short time he tried switch-hitting), and an .854 OPS against righties.
He took advantage of Reading playing as a hitter’s park, and that would probably continue if he starts there again next year. If he is told to start at Lehigh Valley, it would be a case of the Phillies showing some faith in a player despite prior injury.
Maybe that’s just the news Dugan would like to hear next spring in Clearwater.