It is always interesting to see how many Trojans are playing professional sports. Now the sport that is always highlighted is football but the USC Baseball Program has an excellent history of producing All-Star and Hall of Fame caliber players (Randy Johnson, Fred Lynn and Tom Seaver just to name a few).
Speaking of Tom Seaver and the New York Mets, after four years in the minors and a couple of decent seasons in the pros, first baseman Lucas Duda has found his niche as one of the best hitters for the team from Flushing, New York.
Duda grew up in Riverside, California where he attended Arlington High School. After being named the CIF-SS Division I Player of the Year in 2004 and helping his team to a CIF Title, Duda decided to remain close to home and attend USC. Duda played three seasons (2005-2007) at USC and was the mainstay at first base for most of his career although a wrist injury cost him over a month during his freshman year.
In his three seasons, Duda hit .275 with 20 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 81 RBIs and 67 walks. After his junior year, Duda forgo his final season at USC in favor of going pro after being taken with the 243rd pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.
He spent three seasons in the minors before being called up on September 1st, 2010 and started against the Atlanta Braves. Duda would play in the outfield and at first base over the next couple of years as he bounced around between starter and bench/role player. In 2014, Duda finally got his chance as full time starting first baseman for the Mets and had a breakout season. He doubled his previous career high for home runs with 30 and tripled his career high of RBIs in a single season with 92. His home run total ranked third in the National League and his RBI total was tied for fifth. Duda did however struggle with striking out as he had over 100 strikeouts for the third straight season.
Through 70 games in 2015, Duda is hitting .264 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs. Duda is well on his way to another good season and should have over 25 home runs and 80 RBIs by the time the season ends.