Augusta GreenJackets shortstop Matt Duffy has earned a promotion

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Augusta's Matt Duffy stretches for the ball during baseball action against Kannapolis at Lake Olmstead Stadium. Duffy has been promoted to San Jose.      MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Augusta's Matt Duffy stretches for the ball during baseball action against Kannapolis at Lake Olmstead Stadium. Duffy has been promoted to San Jose.

Augusta GreenJackets shortstop Matt Duffy’s consistent play this season was rewarded with news of a promotion following Sunday’s game.

Duffy has been assigned to Advanced-A San Jose. A corresponding move hasn’t been announced.

Duffy led the team with a .304 batting average in 337 plate appearances, recording 14 doubles, three triples and four home runs while getting on base at a .401 clip.

The shortstop also provided steady defense in Augusta, making the necessary plays and showing good range and instincts at the position. He showed natural hitting ability in June by starting a 13-game hitting streak one day after being activated from the disabled list for a sore ankle that kept him out nearly a month.

Duffy’s consistent hitting showed in the day-to-day numbers. He has hit safely in at least two consecutive games 13 times this season, and he has four hitting streaks of at least five games. He has maintained more walks than strikeouts all season, currently with 44 walks to 41 strikeouts. This is starting to become a trend as he had 26 walks to 22 strikeouts in his professional debut for short-season Salem-Keizer last season.

Duffy’s speed has also been a factor, recording the second-most stolen bases on the team with 21.

GAINING STRENGTH: Left-handed reliever Steven Okert has performed his bullpen job well this season while working to improve in another areas.

GreenJackets manager Mike Goff said Okert has worked with strength and conditioning coach Adam Vish to lower his body fat and maintain strength throughout the course of a long season.

Okert was listed at 219 pounds as a junior at Oklahoma, where he posted a 3.07 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 85 innings for the Sooners. He entered his first full pro season with Augusta at 210 pounds.

Okert has a 3.18 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings this season, allowing just five runs in 16 ⅓ innings against left-handed batters. While the numbers have been solid for the left-hander, getting his velocity back to the 94-96 miles per hour scouts saw at Oklahoma has been a priority.

“He has gotten better as the season has progressed,” Goff said. “His velocity is starting come back a little bit, his command is coming back, his slider against lefties has been very good the last couple times out.”

LEFTY HEAVY: A sudden onslaught of opposing left-handed hitters has the GreenJackets wondering where they came from.

“They’re telling us there aren’t any lefties out there in the draft, but (Lakewood and Asheville) have been throwing something like six lefties and two switch guys at us,” Goff said. “It makes it tough.”

The manager’s numbers aren’t far off. In the series opener against Lakewood on July 17, the BlueClaws started eight left-handed hitters, three of which were switch hitters. On Sunday, Asheville started four left-handed hitters, including one switch hitter.

Augusta’s left-handed relievers, Okert and Mason McVay, were expected to see an increased workload during the homestand. Along with Okert’s good numbers against left-handed batters, McVay has allowed four runs in 16⅔ innings against them this season, including 22 strikeouts.


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