Duke in the MLB: Loperfido heats up, Jarvis finds rhythm as season marches on

Former Duke outfielder Joey Loperfido is quickly establishing himself as a solid hitter in the minor leagues.
Former Duke outfielder Joey Loperfido is quickly establishing himself as a solid hitter in the minor leagues.

With Duke baseball in the midst of its ACC slate, past Blue Devils are hard at work in the professional ranks. The Blue Zone examines some previous Duke stars playing at the highest levels of the pro game: 

Joey Loperfido, OF, Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate)

Joey Loperfido is off to one of the most explosive starts to the season in all of professional baseball. The Astros’ No. 6 prospect has knocked five balls out of the park in his last eight outings. Powering that figure is an electric April 12 performance, when Loperfido got his night started with a solo shot over the center field wall. The former Duke captain wasn’t done yet as he took his next at-bat to power a ball to a towering 440 feet. Finally, he capped off the night with a grand slam to bring his RBI total to seven on the day — a career high. 

The former Blue Devil’s standout stretch was good enough to earn him Pacific Coast League Player of the Week, and he now boasts 10 homers and a staggering 1.101 OPS on the season. Though he was not much of a power hitter during his time at Duke, Loperfido has proven his ability to swing a fiery bat that the Astros organization will have a hard time ignoring. Given the team’s slow start to the season, experimental call-ups featuring the up-and-coming hitter could be on the horizon.

Marcus Stroman, P, New York Yankees

After a seemingly untouchable start to the season, Marcus Stroman showed signs of vulnerability as he wavered across his past two outings. In his April 10 start against the Miami Marlins, the two-time All-Star sacrificed four earned runs across his five innings of work, the brunt of which came on a three-run shot given up to Jake Burger. Stroman’s four allowed would prove the point of difference in the evening’s contest as the Marlins went on to win 5-2 and deal him his first loss of the season. 

A week later in Toronto, the Medford, N.Y., native fell victim to the long ball again, allowing two runs on a two-run blast by Daulton Varsho in the bottom of the second. Stroman rebounded well, preventing any further damage throughout his remaining 3.1 innings on the bump and moving his ERA to a strong 2.42 on the season. Despite a rough outing against Miami, he remains a centerpiece of the Yankees’ starting rotation, one that has found broad success as they currently share the best record in the American League. 

Bryce Jarvis, P, Arizona Diamondbacks

Bryce Jarvis has had an effective start to his season as a long reliever for the Diamondbacks. The former first-round pick has fought his way to a 3.29 ERA thus far, giving up a respectable five earned runs over his cumulative 13.2 innings on the hill. A notable step for Jarvis came on April 14 and 15, back-to-back nights where he was able to step onto the rubber. Across these outings, the Franklin, Tenn., native gave up just two hits and one unearned run over 3.2 innings of work. The ability to quickly recover and perform will be essential to Jarvis’s long-term success in the league.

Coming into the season, the righty made a few adjustments to his arsenal. Firstly from a mechanical standpoint, the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff got him to try a new windup that helped him find more extension on his delivery. Additionally, Jarvis added a cutter to his pitch mix. He has been able to lean into it early, throwing the cutter 20.3% of the time and garnering a 24.8% whiff rate, according to Baseball Savant. Though it is still early in the season, the reliever has promising new tools to help strengthen his contribution and continue to solidify his role in the bullpen throughout his sophomore season.


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