As most Royals fans are aware a couple of days ago prized left handed pitching prospect Danny Duffy decided to step away from the game to reassess his life's priorities. But today the Royals' system was dealt two more blows., double play partners Ben Tschepikow and Scott Lyons decided to hang it up as well. The two middle infielders were drafted in the 15th and 17th rounds respectively after playing in college together at the University of Arkansas. Neither were featured in any top prospect lists this offseason, but I admit to having a little intrigue in Ben Tschepikow-wow.
Even while in Arizona this week I took the time to watch him field some grounders and take some swings in the cage. To me he hit well and he sprayed line drives all over the diamond, however after practice he seemed down on himself and a man (I assume to be his dad or grandfather) appeared to be trying to pep him up. To me it seems like the pep talk worked and Ben left the talk with a more confident expression on his face. Obviously at the time I had no idea that this talk could be foreshadowing to Ben's decision to hang up the cleats later in the week.
Tschepikow and Lyons were both drafted as seniors and if I remember right signed to $1,000 bonuses. It is almost poetic justice that both would hang up the cleats on the same Spring afternoon after spending so many hours together in the weight room and on the baseball diamond. Lyons has been injured since his days at Arkansas, even missing parts of the College World Series, one wonders if Lyons was healthy if both would still be pursuing a shot at the major leagues. Maybe without one another to push each other the drive was no longer there for each of the two prospects, or maybe both decided that they had already reached the pinnacle of their baseball careers when the had the opportunity to compete in Omaha last summer. They both graduated from a fine institution in Fayetteville, Arkansas and while they may have surprised as prospects they won't be surprising anyone when they go on to have successful lives outside of baseball.
The spring has already been unkind to the Royals farm system and now after losing Bianchi for the season and Moustakas for roughly six weeks, the system will now lose a top flight left handed pitching prospect for what could be good. Some speculate that part of the reason Duffy has left could have to do with the Royals conservative approach to his elbow soreness. There was no damage and the Royals have chose to shut him down until the beginning of May to make sure that they don't damage one of the best pitchers in the system. It is interesting that Baseball America had this to say about Duffy entering the season. (I don't have the text with me so I will do my best.):
The only thing left for Duffy to prove is that he can overcome adversity, because so far he hasn't encountered any.
Isn't ironic that the first time Duffy encounters adversity as a pro this is the result? Retirement. Let's not jump the gun though, originally all of the stories that broke the news stated that Duffy was retiring from the game. However, in the revised additions most of the stories state that Duffy is taking a leave of absence to reassess his life's priorities. I am extremely hopeful that this will not be the last we here of Duffy as a Royals prospect, but at this point I don't really know what to expect.
In regards to minor league spring training, the phrase no news is good news seems to apply. Unfortunately this spring there has been a lot of news coming from the minor league side of the complex. I'm hopeful that the organization can move past these bumps and the system can breakout in 2010 as many scouts believe it can.
Update: After reading this article from the Kansas City star (http://www.kansascity.com/2010/03/25/1837144/friend-gives-insight-about-duffy.html) it sounds as though we may be dealing with another case of an undiagnosed social anxiety disorder. Do not think that because Greinke was able to rebound that this is a likely scenario for Duffy. Millions of people each year face this sort mental disorder and many are not able to obtain medication that properly fixes the issue. Of course the article doesn't say that he has a condition or has been diagnosed, but to me it reads as though this is a definite possibility.