Visalia, California —— It’s been an eventful summer for Camden Duzenack.
The Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop prospect — playing for the Visalia Rawhide right now after being drafted out of Dallas Baptist University last June — is experiencing the inevitable ups and downs of his first full pro season. Slashing .229/.313/.345/.658 in 81 games as he enters play Saturday doesn’t quite tell the full tale of Duzenack’s season, but it does set the table; undersized (listed at 5’9”, 170 lbs.) and primarily carried by impressive defensive tools, Duzenack has shown little power but decent contact skills early in his pro career. He’s gone through it a bit, of late; coming out of the California League All-Star Break last month, the infielder went on an 0-for-28 slide over nine games to finish June that saw his batting average drop nearly thirty points. And then suddenly, five hits and a walk across the first two days of July quickly snapped him out of the slump — a little microcosm of what’s been an up-and-down year of adjustments at the plate for the Texan.
Duzenack is an underdog simply by virtue of his size, not to mention the fact that he’s thus far held his own at a premium position despite assumptions he’ll wind up at second base, or as a utility infielder. As you might expect in that context, his high-energy leadership attributes stand out, as does his exceptional work ethic, and the pride he takes in his defensive work. Though he’ll be further tested offensively as he reaches the upper minors, Camden Duzenack could very well over-achieve and hit his ceiling for the Arizona Diamondbacks, if only by sheer force of will and perseverance. To that end, comps of David Eckstein and David Fletcher come to mind here.
I caught up with Camden Duzenack before a night game in Visalia earlier this month to talk about the adjustments he’s made through his first full year of pro ball. In his own words, here’s the Arizona Diamondbacks prospect on adjusting to High-A pitching, figuring out how to physically manage his energy levels across a full 140-game season, being a team leader in pro ball, and more.
Camden Duzenack on adjusting to High-A and the grind of a full season:
“Stats aside, I feel decent. Obviously, some days are better than others. This game is all about making adjustments, and in a long season, you have to keep that in perspective. How you feel month one is going to be different from how you feel month three. It’s really a daily grind to figure out how you’re feeling that day. Everybody in this league is awesome, too. There are guys in this league who go straight to the big leagues. You’re always facing quality pitchers. So you’ve gotta keep that in mind, too, and understand that every day is a new day no matter if it’s going good or bad. And really all you’re here to do is help your team win.”
“Physically, I feel pretty good right now. I’m a high-energy guy, and some days I do feel a little bit sluggish, but you really just have to make it work, and understand that you do have to take care of your body a little bit better. Thankfully, in college, I got to go play in the Northwoods League [in the summers]. That league goes 75 games in about 78 days, plus the college [spring] season. I don’t want to say I know what this grind is like, since this is still my first full pro season, but I really do think those summers up in the Northwoods helped me prepare for this, and I understand a little bit of what a minor league schedule is like playing every day.”
Camden Duzenack on changing his leadership style in pro ball:
“College is a little more ‘rah-rah’. You can just straight out-energy teams sometimes there. But here in pro ball, I can be a high-energy guy, but I have to focus it on more specific aspects of the game. Like, I need to channel my energy to lead the infielders in critical moments of the game and step up to make a play. I can’t just be high-energy and ‘rah rah’ four hours before the game during BP just because. I actually think I picked that up pretty quickly. I learned pretty early on to channel that energy into specific areas of the game where it can actually be used to help the team. It has to be more of a focused energy than this ‘rah rah, I’m going to make some noise to fire up the troops for no reason’ stuff you get in college baseball sometimes. That doesn’t stick when you play this many games.”
Camden Duzenack on the pride he takes at shortstop:
“A lot of it is I just try to out-work people in the infield. I know that’s one of my better tools, and so I try to focus on that. And I get it, I know I’m viewed as undersized, and that’s how people see me, but in this day and age of baseball, you can still get it done at my size. I know that shortstops are often viewed as leaders on and off the field, and leaders of the entire defense, and I like that. I want to be a vocal leader and all that, but I really want to be a leader that proves it on the field. You don’t have a lot of credibility if you’re a leader and then you make 20 errors a month, or whatever. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you know what I mean. Production matters. There’s an accountability aspect of it, saying ‘hey, I’m going to lead you guys, but I’m right here with you, I’m making all the plays with you, I’m backing you up.’”
Finally, Camden Duzenack on whether he’ll stick at shortstop long-term:
“Those decisions are made by other people, but right now I know that I am here in this situation, and I know the Arizona Diamondbacks value me here as a shortstop. Now, whether I get moved over and make it up as a second baseman, or utility, even an outfielder or whatever, I just want to do whatever I can to give myself the best shot to get there, and I want to help give the organization the best shot to win ball games. Let’s see what happens from here. I can’t wait to see where it goes.”
For more on Arizona Diamondbacks SS Camden Duzenack…
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