Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Shelley Duncan entered the 2007 season with only 12 games under his belt at the Triple-A level, in which he hit just .186. In seven games so far this season, Duncan has exploded out of the gate to the tune of a .375 batting average with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Duncan drove in two runs in each of his first three games, highlighted by a 3-3 performance with a homer and 2 RBIs against Richmond on April 10. Duncan's hot hitting continued this past weekend as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took its first trip to Pawtucket as the Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees.
Duncan ruined Pawtucket's home opener Friday by smashing a three-run homer in the 4th inning that propelled the Yankees to a 6-2 victory. Saturday afternoon, Duncan crushed a double and a two-run homer to lead Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a 5-1 win over the PawSox. The only thing that could stop Duncan's bat was Mother Nature, which postponed Sunday's contest in Pawtucket. Through the season's first eleven days, Duncan leads all IL hitters with 11 RBIs and a .917 slugging percentage, and his four homers ties him for the league lead with three other players.
The New York Yankees selected Shelley Duncan in the 2nd round of the 2001 draft. In his first six professional seasons, Duncan has hit 103 HR and collected 377 RBIs. In 2005 playing for Double-A Trenton, he led the Eastern League with 34 HR and 64 extra-base hits. Last season he made his Triple-A debut, playing 12 games with Columbus, while spending the rest of the season at Trenton. The 27-year-old Duncan is a native of Tucson, Ariz.
For the second time in his career, Durham right-hander Jason Hammel has been named the International League Pitcher-of-the-Week. He also was so honored in 2006 (July 10-16) after combining with Juan Salas to record a no-hitter. Hammel has gotten off to a tremendous start in 2007, posting a miniscule 0.54 ERA in three starts. His 16.2 innings pitched leads the IL, and his 18 strikeouts are second only to Pawtucket's Devern Hansack (20).
Hammel couldn't seem to catch a break through his first two outings. On Opening Night against Syracuse, Hammel did not allow a hit or a walk over 5.0 innings of work, but the bullpen couldn't hold the 1-0 lead and the Chiefs won 2-1. Five days later, Hammel took the hill against Pawtucket. The PawSox managed just one run on four hits through five innings, but once again the Bulls fell by the score of 2-1. Yesterday afternoon in Toledo, Hammel finally got the support from his offense needed to give him his first victory. Durham exploded for seven runs in the top of the 2nd, giving Hammel plenty of cushion as he breezed through most of the 7-inning contest. Hammel struck out nine Mud Hens and walked only one, going 6.2 innings before Tim Corcoran came on to record the game's final out. In three starts Hammel has allowed just nine hits, giving opposing batters a mere .145 average against him.
Jason Hammel, 24, is coming off a season in which he posted a 5-9 record with a 4.23 ERA for the Durham Bulls. Five times last season Hammel's Bulls were shut out by the opposing pitcher during his starts. He also made his Major League debut last year in a pair of stints with the Tampa Bay Devil Ray s, going 0-6 with a 7.77 ERA. At the conclusion of the season, Baseball America rated Hammel as the 14th best prospect in the International League.
Batter of the Week -- Shelley Duncan, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Pitcher of the Week -- Jason Hammel, Durham Bulls