Adam Duvall is hard at work in the Arizona desert, looking for an encore to his breakout season for the Cincinnati Reds.
For the slugging outfielder, the biggest key is the smallest details.
“You don’t try to repeat anything,” Duvall said. “You’ve got to get your work in. You’ve got to stay focused and try to do the little things right. To go back, that’s what gave you success in the first place. You’ve just got to continue to try to do those things.”
Duvall was a pleasant surprise for lowly Cincinnati last year, leading the last-place Reds with 33 homers and 103 RBIs. He made the All-Star team for the first time and was a finalist for the Gold Glove award in left field, won by Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte.
It was Duvall’s first full year in the outfield, so the defensive recognition was particularly satisfying.
“I put a lot of emphasis on my defence, so it was gratifying for that to kind of pay off,” he said before the Reds’ first exhibition game against the Giants on Friday.
An 11th-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, Duvall broke into the majors with San Francisco in 2014. He homered off Mike Leake for his first hit in his first major-league game against Cincinnati.
After batting .192 in 28 games with the Giants, Duvall began the next season back in the minors. He hit 26 homers for Triple-A Sacramento before he was shipped to the Reds along with minor-league right-hander Keury Mella for Leake.
Duvall, a Louisville, Ky., native who played his college ball at Western Kentucky, made a quick impression after he was promoted to Cincinnati, belting a two-run homer in his first plate appearance with the Reds. He went deep for each of his first three hits with his new club.
“Adam, he has natural ability and he has a very steady routine that he sticks to and can carry over into the game,” Reds slugger Joey Votto said, “and I think that that’s kind of an underrated attribute for players, the ability to prepare and see that carry over onto the field.”
It remains to be seen if Duvall’s success in 2016 can carry over to this year (he had eight homers and 14 RBIs in 55 games before last season).
“He gets it; I mean he’s a really bright kid and a tremendous worker,” manager Bryan Price said. “I just don’t think it’s an easy game. It’s hard to be really good on a consistent basis. However, my expectation is that he’s going to be really good again this year.”
A little more plate discipline could help Duvall continue his level of production. He struck out 164 times last year, compared with 41 walks.
But he grows more comfortable with his surroundings every day, and that could help this season.
“With last year being a full year up here and getting to know a bunch of the guys, the comfortability level is definitely higher than when I first walked into the locker room,” he said. “It’s nice to know the guys and know all the faces and the coaching staff and the front office. It’s starting to feel like home.”