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Top Prospect Alert Interview - Brandon Duckworth

By Paul Gierhart

This week TPA features an interview with a pitcher coming off a dynamite season.  Brandon Duckworth (who is currently with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons) is picking up where he left off last year…check out his 2001 stats so far!































TPA:  After not being drafted after your junior year (1997) at Cal State Fullerton, how does the success of last season at Reading make you feel?

DUCKWORTH:  The feeling of my successful season last year at Reading is simply overwhelming. I attribute the success from playing winter ball in Venezuela. I was able to pitch against the likes of Maglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Richard Hidalgo and some other former major league players. I feel playing against them makes you elevate your game. You know if you make mistakes to them, they will make you pay.  I was able to learn so much about the game from my manager (Marc Bombard) and pitching coach (Marty DeMerrit). The knowledge they passed on to me as well as playing against the very talented players in Venezuela helped me have a great season last year in Reading.

TPA:  After coming off a subpar 1999 season at Clearwater to leading the Eastern League in strikeouts and earning recognition as an all-star and as the circuit’s No. 5 prospect, what do you say to those who look at your 2000 season as a fluke?

DUCKWORTH:  To all those people out there who think my 2000 season was a fluke. I will prove everyone wrong and give you no reason to doubt my abilities to play this
game at the best highest level.

TPA:  You have often been labeled as a finesse pitcher. What have you done to maintain your increase velocity to enjoy success in the majors?

DUCKWORTH:  I believe the increase in my velocity is attributed to throwing a lot, as well as being on a strength and conditioning program. The more I have thrown in the past years, the better my velocity has gotten. Lifting weights has helped me gain muscle and stay strong throughout the season.

TPA:  Your strengths have been described as surprising pop and movement on his fastball. It regularly is in the 87-92 mph range, topping out at 94. Sharp 12 to 6 curveball was rated the best breaking pitch in the Eastern League, and also has a changeup. Will throw any of his three pitches at any point in the count. Is this an accurate account of your strengths currently?

DUCKWORTH:  You have accurately stated my strengths. I hope to continue to improve on all my pitches throughout my career. Last year was probably the most I have
improved in my career.

TPA:  Have you developed any other pitches in the off season?

DUCKWORTH:  This off-season, I worked on a slider. I feel it will help me in the long run. It is a different look and is a great ground ball pitch. My curveball is also a ground ball pitch, but I have found that it is not hit hard enough to turn double plays most of the time.

TPA:  How close were you to making the big league staff at spring training this year?

DUCKWORTH:  I did not get a real opportunity to make the team out of spring training. I was sent down after three weeks of camp. There were not enough innings to go
around. So I went down to minor league camp to get my innings in.

TPA:  What role has your family played in your pro baseball career?

DUCKWORTH:  My family has played an enormous role in my pro career. I am very close with my family. I talk with them 4 or 5 times per week. They have always been
there for me when times have been good and bad. They give me all of their love and support. It makes this lifestyle much easier when the important people in your life are backing you no matter if you are going good or bad. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

TPA:  Who would you compare your pitching style to?

DUCKWORTH:  I would probably compare myself to Darryl Kile. I throw very similar pitches. I throw a fastball, 12-6 curveball, and change-up. I have also added a slider
to my repertoire.

TPA:  Where do you see your pitching career at a year from now?

DUCKWORTH:  I hope to see myself in the major leagues next year. I believe if I continue to learn and pitch consistently, I have a definite shot at competing for a spot in the rotation.

TPA:  Is there anything outside of baseball you would like to share about yourself with your fans?

DUCKWORTH:  I have many hobbies outside of baseball. I love the outdoors. I enjoy hunting, fishing, and camping with my friends. I also like to play golf. Any time I can get out on a river and fly fish, I feel like I am in heaven. I love getting away from the everyday life and this is one way I do so. The golfing I relate in many ways to baseball. You need to stay focused and calm. I love to compete and I find golfing is the best way to do so outside of facing a hitter.

I would like to thank Brandon Duckworth for his time and wish him all the luck in the world in the 2001 season!


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