The wait continues for the human highlight reel of Scottsdale to go from spring training star to everyday center fielder in San Francisco. As Steven Duggar suits up in Triple-A, he showed off his full skill set from defense to offense in the River Cats’ 10-6 loss Thursday night at Raley Field to the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
What catches the googly eyes of coaches, teammates and fans first and foremost with Duggar is his defense. At 6-foot-2, Duggar glides in center field, letting his speed take over. At the crack of the bat, Duggar is hunting down his red-seamed prey.
Andrew Toles found this out the hard way in the top of the fifth inning. Toles smoked a fastball and lined it to center field with tailing spin to Duggar's backhand side. The gazelle found his dinner.
With his glove work on display, it was time for Duggar to dig into his tool belt one inning later. This time it was his arm he was showing off. A soft line drive one-hopped him with two outs and a Dodgers runner rounded third base before Duggar took a quick hop, cocked his right arm back and threw a perfect one-hop strike up the third base line for the final out of the inning.
Defense has always come natural for Duggar. His bat has been behind, but not in a detrimental way. Not by a long shot. Thursday night in Sacramento, his bat was on par with his glove. The offense actually arrived before the defense against the Dodgers.
In the bottom of the second inning, one inning after lining out to center field, Duggar scored two on a double this time over the head of center fielder Alex Verdugo. And two innings later, Duggar did the same thing, except this time his double to center field scored one run instead of two. Duggar finished the game 2-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI, one walk, and one strikeout.
Over the last 10 games, Duggar has been on fire for the River Cats. In that span, he is hitting .390 (16-for-41). Through 54 games, Duggar is now batting .277 with a .356 on-base percentage and .423 slugging percentage. Duggar’s two doubles Thursday night brought his season total to 17. He also has three home runs and nine stolen bases.
If Duggar’s Triple-A numbers were those of an everyday player on the Giants, he would lead the team in stolen bases and triples (3), rank second in doubles — in five less games than Andrew McCutchen — and fourth in on-base percentage.
When the Giants signed Austin Jackson to a two-year deal in the offseason, the thought was that the veteran would serve as a short stopgap before Duggar was ready. But Duggar has dealt with his ups and downs at the plate and the real speed bump in his road to San Francisco has been the emergence of Gorkys Hernandez.
The wait is certainly winding down and it will come sooner than later for Duggar. And when it’s over, he showed Thursday night in Sacramento that he can put on quite the show.