Max Duval surprised everyone with a breakout age-26 season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2017.
This offseason, we here at Marlin Maniac are going overboard with our 2018 review. This is the 259th article in a planned 286 part series. Let’s get to know Max Duval.
Maxwell Duval, born on April 15th, 1991, is a 6’5″, 235 lb. right-handed hitting and throwing pitcher from San Luis Obispo, California, population 47,541. Two major league players had their start in the town, pitchers Les Cain and Chuck Estrada.
Duval attended San Luis Obispo HS in his home town, and later matriculated to the University of Hawaii. After hitting .186 as a junior in 2012, he got a little pitching in as a senior. After pitching only eight innings however, and hitting .192 in 14 games, he received little interest in the MLB Amateur Draft.
In 2014, Duval signed on with the Schaumburg Boomers in the independent Frontier League. He only pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs in a short look. He remained in the FL in 2015, playing in another four games for the Boomers then joining the Frontier Greys for the rest of the year. He struck out 58 in 61 2/3 innings in total, putting up a 4.38 ERA as a mostly relief pitcher.
Through the first half of 2016, Duval struck out 42 in 43 innings with the Evansville Otters in the FL, with a 4-1 record and a 4.40 ERA. After allowing 32 hits and 10 walks for a WHIP below 1, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to take a flyer on Duval. Here’s Duval, courtesy of the Midwest League Archives.
At four different levels in the Diamondbacks system, Duval was 4-7 with a 3.42 ERA and 75 K’s in 77 innings. For what it was worth, Duval was released before 2017 Spring Training.
2017 would be a landmark season for Duval. He pitched well enough to be named the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year, going 8-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 113 whiffs against only 27 walks in 87 innings. The Miami Marlins took notice, and signed Duval to a minor league deal on July 30th.
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Duval was electric with the full-season-A Greensboro Grasshoppers, in the South Atlantic League. He got 38 to wave in 38 2/3 innings, and went 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA. On August 13th, Duval struck out nine over a complete game, seven-inning one-hitter as the Hoppers topped the Kannapolis Intimidators, 3-0.
Despite Duval’s advanced age, the results were encouraging, and would we really be surprised if the Marlins discovered another diamond in the rough after Trevor Richards?
The Miami Marlins put enough faith in Duval in 2018 to skip him past high-A directly to the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League. Duval put up a 1.614 WHIP and a 7.16 ERA in 88 innings, striking out 76 but going 2-11 as a starter. Miami released Duval on January 23rd, 2019. Currently a free agent, Duval is permitted to sign with any organization, affiliated or otherwise.