Daniel Duffy, A Top Royal Prospect, Walks Away From the Game

Daniel Duffy, widely considered one of the top prospects in the Kansas City system, is leaving baseball for undisclosed reasons. The news broke this morning on a Royals blog, and was quickly verified by the team via a press release. Unlike the much talked about retirement of Grant Desme, who entered the seminary to become a Catholic priest, at this time no one outside the organization knows, or is saying just why Duffy is quitting.

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“Danny informed us (Tuesday) that his desire is to leave baseball at this time to reassess his life priorities,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo confirmed in a statement released by the club.

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“Should Danny decide in the future to return to the game, we will be happy at that time to discuss the possibility.”

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Greg Schaum, who first broke the story, writes that Duffy has "lost his love of the game" and calls the southpaw a "unique personality" who is considering going to college rather than face another number of years toiling in the minor leagues.

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Minor League players retire (weird using that word for guys in their early twenties) all the time, but rarely do they do so with Duffy's performance profile, reputation, and relatively young age. To be sure, with only one year of high-A ball under his belt, Duffy still faces a long road to the Majors, and as with the Desme story, it is easy to overstate just what he is giving up. All we can say with certainty that he's really giving up is long bus rides, lots of time in motels, and the $10,000-$20,000 a year that minor leaguers earn. Still, those of us in the real world aren't used to hearing that a player with Duffy's talents might look at our lives longingly. Moreover, sports culture, fans included, looks down upon quitting with more scorn than just about anything else. The reactions at Royals Review are all over the place.

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Surprisingly, this is an area in which Duffy has the good fortune to be dealing with one of baseball's most progressive organizations. Yes, the Royals are likely ahead of most when it comes to patiently dealing with the emotional state of their players, given the way they handled Zack Greinke. Greinke left the team in March of 2006, and was not a regular contributor to the Royals until the 2007 season. As such, the quote above from the Royals front office clearly leaves open the possibility that Duffy could return, and if he wishes to, he'll have a place waiting for him.

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