Former University of Vermont baseball standout Matt Duffy (Milton, Mass.) had his contract purchased by the Houston Astros Sunday night and will join the American League West-leading club when it takes on the Texas Rangers on Monday. Duffy will become the 11th former UVM player to reach the big leagues and the first since pitcher Kirk McCaskill, who wrapped up his 11-year career with the Chicago White Sox in 1995.
The 26-year old corner infielder had an outstanding season with the Triple A Fresno Grizzlies earning Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player honors and a spot on the PCL All-Star Team. Duffy was the first minor leaguer in 2015 to reach 100 runs batted in and finished with a PCL-leading 104 RBI. He also led the loop with 94 runs scored while hitting .294 with 20 homers, 29 doubles and a .486 slugging percentage. Drafted in the 20th round of the 2011 June Draft, Duffy has been an all-star at each stop in the minor leagues starting with Tri-City of the New York Penn League.
A graduate of St. Sebastian's School in suburban Boston, Duffy had two outstanding seasons at UVM before the program was discontinued in 2009, spending his final two collegiate seasons at Tennessee of the powerful SEC. His freshman season (2008) he was named to the America East All-Rookie Team, the America East All-Championship Team and the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team. As a sophomore he led the America East in hitting (.388), RBI (57), runs scored (57), on base percentage (.495) and slugging percentage (.713) while hitting a Vermont single-season record 13 home runs. He was named the 2009 America East Player of the Year and was a first team All-New England and ABCA All-Northeast Region All-Star. He also was named to the PING Baseball.com All-American Team.
Both of his collegiate coaches were Vermonters: Bill Currier of Essex Junction at UVM and Todd Raleigh of Swanton at Tennessee.
Duffy's contract was purchased by the Astros Sunday and he will be added to Houston's 40-man roster on Monday. The move was first reported by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle Sunday in the paper's Ultimate Astros Blog.
"We feel like he can help us," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said to Drellich in the Chronicle's blog. "And he certainly brings an added benefit to our team, otherwise we wouldn't do it. Especially with him still playing (with Fresno). So, we obviously see that he can do some things for us that warrant a call-up. So we'll see how it plays out.
"We have those positions covered. He might just be a bat off the bench initially. But who knows? Never say never. Sometimes you get sparks when guys get up here and get their first taste of the big leagues."
One of the most improved teams in the big leagues, the surprising Astros hold game-and-a-half lead in the American League West Division over the Rangers who they open a key four-game series Monday night in Arlington, Texas.
Duffy joined baseball's elite winning the PCL Most Valuable Player Award, historically one of the most prestigious in the minor leagues. Established in 1927, previous winners include Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Tony Perez, former greats like Dom DiMaggio, Lefty O'Doul, Tim Salmon and Paul Konerko, and current big league stars such as Nelson Cruz and Joc Peterson, the 2014 winner.