Generals' Duplantier is just perfect in return

Healthy, top D-backs prospect goes untouched for five innings

Jon Duplantier pitched 136 innings in his first full season but has made only 10 starts this year. (John Sewell/Jackson Generals)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / MiLB.com | August 7, 2018 12:27 AM

Forget about a no-hitter, Jon Duplantier was happy just to be back on the mound.

After missing about two months because of bicep tendinitis, Arizona's top-ranked prospect threw five perfect innings in his first start back in the Southern League as Double-A Jackson fell to Tennessee, 2-1, at The Ballpark at Jackson. He struck out three and didn't issue any walks.

"Getting on the mound was exhilarating," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "Doing rehab is not fun. Knowing that I can't help the team win, or achieve my goals, that's the frustrating part."

Video: Jackson's Duplantier strikes out batter

The D-backs have been careful with Duplantier since he was sidelined following a May 27 start against Birmingham. He pitched a combined seven innings over two rehab starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League on July 22 and July 27, going four innings in his most recent outing.

Against Tennessee, the No. 69 overall prospect threw 69 pitches, 43 strikes, to retire all of the 15 batters he faced.

He understands Arizona might continue to limit his innings, but he feels he's ready for whenever the reins come off.

"To be honest, I was hoping to convince them that [the perfect game] was a special kind of thing, but they weren't budging on that. They wouldn't even let me get a second at-bat. I was done, done ... double done," Duplantier said. "They haven't said anything about my next starts, whether I'm five-and-dive or [they'll] let me go to six. But it doesn't really change anything for me. If it's five innings or seven, eventually, I will get that chance."


Gameday box score


In keeping with his ground-ball tendencies -- he induces 1.70 for every fly ball -- the Delaware native got seven groundouts to three flyouts. 

"[Getting a lot of grounders] started off as just how my ball moves. Obviously as you learn more about the game and there's more information, if I get called up by the Diamondbacks, I'll be playing in places like Colorado and Arizona, places where the ball takes off. So there's been a stress, a higher emphasis, on keeping the ball down in the zone," he said.

"[Also] my plan of attack is sinker/slider. I want to work off the end of the bat, down in the zone. It's just the depth and horizontal movement of my pitches. It naturally goes to the bottom side of the barrel."

The Smokies broke through almost as soon as Duplantier departed. In the sixth, left-hander Daniel Gibson (2-3) gave up a one-out single to Jeffrey Baez and he surrendered a two-run homer to No. 23 Cubs prospect Zack Short two batters later.

Yoan Lopez, the D-backs' 18th-ranked prospect, pitched two perfect innings for the Generals.

Marty Herum doubled in Rudy Flores in the bottom of the sixth to produce Jackson's lone run.

Duncan Robinson (6-4) got the win, allowing one run on five hits and two walks while striking out seven in six innings. Jake Stinnett worked around a single in the ninth to record his sixth save.

Duplantier fell to the third round of the 2016 Draft because of a shoulder injury that cost him all of 2015. Last year, he went 12-3 with a Minor League-best 1.39 ERA over 25 games -- 24 starts.

A kinesiology major at Rice University, he believes his education gives him a proverbial leg up in coping with injuries.

"For sure, it's the reason that I chose kinesiology as my major," Duplantier said. "I was intrigued. I was always a science nerd, but once I kind of had enough people in college tell me, 'You're pretty good -- you're going to play pro ball,' I figured if I know what [kinesiology teaches], I can apply some of that to my own career and my own job.

"I like this stuff and I want to help people with this knowledge. I have an idea what's going on usually, and I may not know everything that's going on, but I can tell the trainer, 'My bicep, I can feel that's inflamed. That's tender.' I can self-diagnose and that helps to get ahead of [the injury] and try to fix it faster."

MiLB include

After throwing 136 innings in that breakout first full season, the 24-year-old righty has 38 2/3 frames on his resume this year and could be a candidate to make up some lost time in the Arizona Fall League.

"I've thought about it. I would love to continue to face good hitters in a prestigious league," he admitted. "I could get more innings and keep competing and in Arizona and when it's not hot, that would be a good experience, but they haven't told me anything."

Duplantier's ready for his next step, whatever it is.

"If I wanted to know information, if they were at liberty and they had the answers, they have an open-door policy with us as players and staff," he said about the possibility of reaching Triple-A or the Majors this year.

"But I chose not to worry about that. It's not in my control. But whether they want to jump me to Arizona or Reno, I'm just going to go out, break bats, kill worms. It doesn't matter where I do it. If I have to make one jump to the 'Biggest Little City in the World,' Reno or to Arizona, a promotion is a promotion. I'd be happy, whatever they tell me. I'd say, 'Let's pack it up. Let's go.'"

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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