Adam Duvall reflects on reset of career, playing in Gwinnett

Credit: Matthew Caldwell

Credit: Matthew Caldwell

Adam Duvall is in an interesting spot.

After he was traded to the Braves on July 31, 2018, Duvall struggled to adjust to his new team. Primarily he was used as a pinch-hitter, with a few starts scattered throughout, and he hit .132 in 33 games.

The organization optioned him to the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers on March 24. Since, the 30-year-old slugger is starting to feel like himself again. He leads the Stripers in home runs with 19 and is hitting .251, entering Saturday.

Duvall is experiencing what many professional baseball players go through. After all, it is a business. The difference with him, however, is that he already proved himself at the major-league level. He was a reserve in the 2016 MLB All-Star game and participated in the Home Run Derby, thanks in large part to his production, netting 33 and 31 home runs in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

“I came down here for a reason, to get things right, to get back to being who I was,” Duvall said. “I’ve done that. I’ve come down here and gotten my swing right. So, the end goal is to get back up to the big leagues, so that’s where I’m at.”

Stripers manager Damon Berryhill said Duvall and team hitting coach Bobby Magallanes “have worked backwards” in attempt to get him back in his comfort zone. Getting to play on a consistent basis, where Duvall said he is the most comfortable, has paid dividends.

While it may be easy to get frustrated throughout a process like Duvall’s, Berryhill hasn’t seen it from him.

“Give him a lot of credit, (he) came down here with a great attitude, works hard every day, doesn’t complain (and) shows up to win,” Berryhill said. “He’s a big part of this team. I think he’s enjoying playing the game right now.”

It was in games during the end of April and beginning of May when Duvall said he thought things started to click. He was fresh off a five-game home-run streak from April 25-29, hitting as high as .315 during that span. On June 18, he hit a two-run, walk-off home run to help the Stripers defeat the Louisville Bats.

Duvall attributes some of his early struggles with the Braves to not being part of the regular lineup. He said he didn’t have much experience with that and respects players who can get one or two at-bats every two weeks and still have success. As far as his production at the plate when he did get at-bats, however, Duvall thinks trying to hit the ball differently messed up his mechanics, getting away from his power.

“I got away from (my strength) a little bit last year. I tried to do some things that weren’t me. Now that I’m down here and playing every day … I’ve gotten back in the groove of things,” Duvall said. “For me, I feel like I’m a good-enough player to be in the lineup on a sustainable level,” Duvall said.

As far as his future with the Braves, Duvall said he hasn’t had any conversations with the Braves on his role with the organization going forward. Whether it’s with the Braves or another team, his goal is the same.

“Right now, I’m just trying to hone my skills, be the best baseball player I can be, and hopefully something happens and I can get back up to the big leagues and help a team win. That’s the main goal,” Duvall said.