Lucas Duda has been generating considerable buzz among scouts, who say he is doing a much better job handling and turning on inside fastballs compared with a year or two ago.
When Duda was an A-ball player, he would put on power exhibitions in batting practice, but it did not translate into games, because his "long" swing made it difficult to catch up to pitches without committing early.
One scout who watched Duda as a youngster in the instructional league said he remembers seeing a similar "inside-out" swing from Adrian Gonzalez as a younger player and never imagined he would become a major league slugger. But the scout watched Gonzalez begin to turn on those inside pitches rather than flick them the other way, like Duda is now starting to do.
Self-confidence is an issue with Duda, but he may have a serious future with the Mets. Before Carlos Beltran's left knee flared up, Duda was scheduled to split duty between first base and left field at Triple-A Buffalo. Now, he's being exposed to right field as well. And it wouldn't be shocking for him to be the Opening Day right fielder in 2012, if not sooner taking over that position if Beltran's knee woes persist.