I doubt this comes as a shock, but not everyone works hard in the minors. Not everyone is willing to wipe out a second baseman, or change positions or do early work in the cage. And some of those guys who don’t work nearly as hard have enough natural ability to win opportunities that other guys can only dream about.
“I never really looked at it like that, and I especially don’t look at it like that now,” Duncan said. “For all the guys you see that make it and you think, ‘Man, if that guy made it definitely could have made it or should have made it.’ For every one of those, I played against two other guys that you’re like, ‘If this guy’s not making it, I’m never going to make it.’ Do you remember (eventual Cubs big leaguer) Bobby Scales? I remember playing against that guy in Pawtucket and he was just so good. Power and speed and he could play every position on the field, and then you talk to the guy and he’s like the nicest guy ever. That was one of the guys. It was like, if this guy can’t make it, Jesus, what am I going to do?”
Not surprisingly, Duncan’s long-time teammate Shelley Duncan put things a little more colorfully.
“You see a lot of prima donna players make it to the big leagues because they don’t play with that same intensity so it doesn’t beat up their body, but that’s not Eric’s character,” Shelley said. “… There’s as lot of horse**** players in the big leagues too, that people look at as really good, but the truth is they’re horse**** players, and there’s a lot of players in the minor leagues that are better than them.”
[Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle/USA Today, via It's a Long Season]