After entering last season as one of the Phillies’ most promising offensive prospects, outfielder Kelly Dugan worked hard to continue his path toward the big league. He’ll enter 2015 just a step away from that goal and will look to dodge the pesky injury bug in order to get there.
Signed as the Phillies top draft selection (2nd round, 75th overall) in 2009, Dugan would debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies that year, posting a .233 average with eight doubles, a triple and eight RBI in 45 games. The following season, with the GCL team and short-season Class A Williamsport, Dugan sported a .366 average with a homer and eight RBI in 28 combined games. He missed roughly two months of action with the Crosscutters after he was hit in the leg with a batted ball during batting practice in June and later developed a staph infection that required draining.
In 2011, the lefty batting Dugan returned to Williamsport and represented the club in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. As a member of the Cutters, in 47 games, he sported a .284 batting average along with two home runs and 21 RBI.
With Class A Lakewood the following season, after missing time with a severely sprained ankle, Dugan displayed improved power and steady production, as he notched a .300 batting average, 12 homers and 60 RBI in 117 games. Additionally, his OPS, at .857, was .127 points higher than his mark from the previous season, which was exciting to see.
In 2013, the six-foot-three 215-pounder made a hefty splash in the Class A Advanced Florida State league, as he posted a .318 average with 12 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 56 games. On the heels of that excellent production, the Phils moved Dugan up a level to Double-A Reading. As a member of the Fightins, in 56 contests, he tallied a .264 average with 12 doubles, a triple, 10 homers and 23 RBI.
He would miss the Arizona Fall League that year after dealing with turf toe.
Last season, the California native repeated Reading, but missed time again with multiple ailments including an oblique strain. He also was sidelined after being hit in the hand with a pitch. In 76 games with Reading in 2014, Dugan sported a .296/.383/.435 slash line.
Despite the time on the shelf, he took strides at the plate, driving the ball to the opposite field better than ever, according to Reading manager Dusty Wathan. The 24-year-old has matured, learning his swing and becoming a better hitter.
Firm improvements with his strike out rate (19.3% in 2014 vs. 24.3% in 2013) stand out as one of many noteworthy nuggets of proof related to his development.
Additionally, last year, Dugan saw a solid jump in walk rate over his previous season, drawing free passes much more frequently (9.7% in 2014 vs. 6.1% in 2013), which is a trend that would benefit him greatly if it could continue.
Coaches also helped Dugan reduce the topspin and/or over-spin on balls in flight off his bat, which helped him get truer flight and assisted with driving the ball more.
In order to keep the rust off and work toward getting better during the winter months, Dugan spends time over the off-season privately working on his hitting with seven-time big league All-Star Reggie Smith in batting cages at the Dugan family home.
Mainly a right fielder with a strong arm, Dugan has played left field and first base in his pro career also. Displaying average speed on the bases, Dugan does have a strong ability to read balls off the bat and get solid jumps on fly balls while on defense in the outfield. Dugan, is not a stolen base threat, as he has been successful in 24 of 36 steal attempts during his six-year pro career.
Smart money has to be on Dugan to begin the season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs this year. Look for him to see plenty of game action in big league spring training.
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