Despite a lack of major leaguers, Duke baseball has not failed to deliver some quality talent to the professional ladder. With two recent promotions and the draft finished, the Blue Zone takes a look at former Blue Devils impressing at all levels in professional baseball.
Griffin Conine, OF, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Miami Marlins Double-A)
Griffin Conine—one of Duke’s all-time sluggers—makes his season debut in this monthly series because he has been doing what he does best: hitting home runs. The 52nd pick in the 2018 draft, the outfielder bounced from Toronto to Miami, where he had been playing at the High-A level in Beloit, Wis. until getting promoted to Double-A Pensacola on Sunday. At the Class-A Advanced level, Conine batted .247 with a ridiculous .587 slugging percentage and a minor league-leading 23 home runs and 59 runs batted in. In fact, his home run total in 66 games is greater than Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s through the first 66 games of the 2021 MLB season. His red-hot bat clearly earned Conine his promotion.
The son of Jeff “Mr. Marlin” Conine, a two-time All-Star and World Series champion, Griffin has found his niche as a pro. The younger Conine even made a spectacular run-saving throw earlier this month that mirrored the clutch play his father made to send Miami to the 2003 National League Championship Series.
Marcus Stroman, P, New York Mets
Although he owns the New York Mets’ team lead for innings pitched and has been fantastic all year, the lone Blue Devil major leaguer, Marcus Stroman, has not been without his stumbles throughout his 2021 campaign. He has not allowed more than three runs in a start since May 16, but his team’s severe lack of offensive production during Stroman starts has sent his record down to 6-8. However, even when his team has struggled behind him, the “Stro Show” has been a consistent source of energy for the Mets. Recently, he got involved in a July 16 bench clearing skirmish with John Nogowski of the Pittsburgh Pirates after Nogowski hit a sharp lineout to end a scoring threat in an eventual New York loss.
Bryce Jarvis, P, Amarillo Sod Poodles (Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A)
Last month, just days after writing that Jarvis could be seeing a promotion before the season’s end, he got the call and was sent from Oregon to Texas, where he now plays for the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. After totaling a 3.62 ERA with 42 strikeouts over 37.1 innings at Hillsboro, Jarvis got roughed up a bit at the higher level. Through four starts, he owns a 5.16 ERA but showed flashes of his potential in a seven inning, 11 strikeout gem at home against Wichita.
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Six Blue Devils and counting go pro after draft
Following the MLB Draft, six more Blue Devils are in line to soon join the minor leagues. Duke’s draft picks will likely sign and start their professional careers at Low-A for the final months of the 2021 season. In addition to the five draftees, top bullpen arm Richard Brereton signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs, so he will be joining draftee Peter Matt in the organization in addition to former Blue Devils Bailey Clark, Adam Laskey and Matt Mervis.