Not so long ago Eric Duncan was the Yankees’ third baseman of the future, as the 2003 first-round pick ranked as the game’s 36th-best prospect in 2005 according to Baseball America and then cracked the top 100 again in 2006.
Shortly after that it turned out he couldn’t play third base particularly well and then eventually it turned out he couldn’t hit all that well either. And now at age 27–with 10 seasons in the minors and not a single at-bat in the majors–Duncan is retiring to take a job as a volunteer assistant coach at Seton Hall.
Duncan, who went to Seton Hall Prep for high school in New Jersey, played this season at Double-A in the Royals’ farm system, hitting .267 with four homers and a .688 OPS in 52 games.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.