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Arizona Fall League

D-backs' Duplantier named AFL's Pitcher of the Week

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jon Duplantier and his D-backs teammate, catcher Daulton Varsho, needed to make an adjustment prior to Duplantier's last Arizona Fall League start for the Salt River Rafters.

An outing before, Duplantier stopped throwing his fastball as much and relied on his slider, which he struggled to throw for strikes.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jon Duplantier and his D-backs teammate, catcher Daulton Varsho, needed to make an adjustment prior to Duplantier's last Arizona Fall League start for the Salt River Rafters.

An outing before, Duplantier stopped throwing his fastball as much and relied on his slider, which he struggled to throw for strikes.

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So Duplantier and Varsho modified their game plan, and it worked out. Duplantier, the D-backs' No. 1 prospect, struck out nine over 4 2/3 strong innings against Scottsdale on Nov. 6, earning him AFL Pitcher of the Week honors.

"Being aggressive and trying to attack hitters with fastballs and then working off of that allowed everything to kind of play off a little bit better," said Duplantier, the No. 80 prospect in MLB. "The fastball was good, velocity was good, movement was good, so that made the slider movement good. Everything worked off one another."

Duplantier's nine strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in the Fall League this season. Only one pitcher (Kyle Zimmer, 2014) has struck out more batters in an AFL game (11) in the past 10 years.

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Although Duplantier notched his first Fall League win against Mesa on Oct. 30, the righty gave up three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, allowed six hits and issued four walks. He was more efficient last time out, giving up two earned runs and only walking one.

Duplantier has a 4.08 ERA in five Fall League starts, and during stretches, he has shown why he's the top arm in the D-backs' Minor League system. He didn't allow an earned run over his first two outings and has notched at least five strikeouts in each of his last four starts.

Facing some of the top hitting prospects in MLB, Duplantier has used the Fall League to learn how to rebound from tough outings, much like he did last time out.

"If you were wondering where you're at and ask, 'Hey, does my stuff play, or does my stuff not play?' It's a pretty good PH test," Duplantier said. "We get to face the same teams over and over again, so now you get to see, all right, hey, maybe the first time they've never seen your stuff and you go out there and you pitch, and you call a game and you do well. Next time it's like, bam, nope, you look regular again. And how do you bounce back from that? And you see if you even can."

Duplantier is also getting the opportunity to play with several other D-backs prospects, some of whom could be his future teammates in the Majors. Arizona sent three catchers (Varsho, Renae Martinez, Dominic Miroglio), three infielders (Jazz Chisholm, Drew Ellis, Pavin Smith) and three other pitchers (Kevin Ginkel, Tyler Mark, Bo Takahashi) to the AFL.

"It's just awesome to be out here and work with guys who hopefully I get to work with for years to come," Duplantier said.

Jake Rill is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Phoenix.