ZACH DUKE
SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the L.A. Dodgers in Pittsburgh
Age: 27
Born: April 19, 1983
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 212
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 20th round, 594th overall, 2001
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Midway HS (Waco, TX)
Agent: Mark Pieper
SCOUTING REPORT
Duke burst on to the scene in 2005 with a bang, putting up a 1.81 ERA in 84.2 innings, and finishing 5th in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.  The following season he pitched in 215.1 innings, with a 4.47 ERA.  Duke struggled in 2007, and again in 2008, but returned to his 2006 innings eating form in 2009, with a 4.06 ERA in 213 innings. Duke isn’t a strikeout pitcher by any means, with a career average of 4.6 strikeouts per nine innings.  He compensates for the low strikeouts with a very low walk ratio, at 2.4 BB/9 for his career, and 2.1 in 2009.  Duke is also a ground ball pitcher, with a 49.1% career ground ball ratio in the majors.
 

Duke compares in many ways to Pirates’ lefty Paul Maholm.  Both are left handed innings eaters who can put up an ERA around the 4.00 range in their best seasons.  Neither strike out a lot of batters, with Maholm posting better numbers than Duke, but both have good control and limit walks. The one thing that has plagued Duke in his career is consistency.  In 2008, Duke struggled to put up a long string of decent outings in a row.  He seemed to solve that issue in the first half of the 2009 season, but totally fell apart from August to the end of the season, with a 5.80 ERA in 66.2 innings, after a 3.26 ERA in his first 146.1 innings.  You could chalk that up to the July trades, but Ross Ohlendorf and Paul Maholm had success at the end of the year, which makes Duke’s struggles more of a concern. The Pirates will need Duke to repeat the early portion of his 2009 season in 2010.  The Pirates do have some pitching depth if Duke struggles, such as the loser of the Kevin Hart/Daniel McCutchen battle, or Brad Lincoln in June.  However, it would be better in the long term if Duke is successful out of the gate.

With Duke entering his final year of arbitration in 2011, and options like Lincoln, Hart, McCutchen, Tim Alderson, Jeff Locke, and Rudy Owens set to make an impact in 2010-2011, there won’t be much need for Duke after June 2010, especially since the Pirates have a similar version, and slightly better version, in Paul Maholm.  This assumes other rotation options succeed in 2010, and that Brad Lincoln is ready to arrive in June.  It’s very easy to see Duke getting dealt around June to make room for Lincoln, much like Nate McLouth was dealt in June 2009 to make room for Andrew McCutchen.

STATS


CONTRACT INFORMATION
2005: League Minimum
2006: $335,000
2007: $410,000
2008: $400,000
2009: $2,200,000
2010: $4,300,000
2011: Arbitration Eligible

Other Details:
  • Can earn $25,000 each for 215 and 220 innings pitched in 2010.
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2002
MLB Debut: 7/2/2005
MLB FA Eligible: 2012
Added to 40-Man: 7/1/2005
Options Remaining: 3 (USED: N/A)
MLB Service Time: 4.094
AWARDS / ACHIEVEMENTS / PROSPECT RANKINGS
AWARDS / ACHIEVEMENTS
PROSPECT RANKINGS
2004: Baseball America 2nd Team Minor League All-Star SP
2004: High-A All-Star SP
2004: Carolina League Pitcher of the Year
2004: Pirates Minor League Player of the Year
2004: Carolina League All-Star SP
2005: AAA All-Star SP
2005: Pirates Minor League Player of the Year
2005: International League All-Star SP
2005: International League MVP
2009: National League All-Star SP
Baseball America

2006: #34 MLB, #1 PIT

TRANSACTIONS
June 5, 2001: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round, 594th overall pick.
July 31, 2001: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates to a minor league contract.
July 2, 2005: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 19, 2010: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.