MELISSA – Former Melissa Cardinal great Camden Duzenack was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, June 13 — Day 2 of the Major League Baseball draft. Duzenack, a two-time All-State selection at Melissa, went in the ninth round as the 262nd overall pick. (There are 40 rounds in the three-day MLB draft.) The 5-9, 170-pound shortstop who bats and throws right-handed was also a standout four-year starter at Dallas Baptist University.
“I’m pumped, I’m really excited,” Duzenack said by phone on June 20 from the Diamondbacks’ training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I’m ready to get things going.”
Duzenack had been there attending minicamp since June 15. The next morning, he was headed to Oregon where he’ll play for the Diamondbacks’ Short Season A club, the Hillsboro Hops.
Duzenack said he’d been at home in Melissa when he received word of his selection. “I had just gotten back from taking some grounders and taking BP (batting practice) at Melissa High School, just trying to stay in shape and stuff. I got back to the house and my sister was looking at the Draft Tracker on her phone and she said, ‘Well, there it is.’”
Duzenack said his Christian faith has directed his life and that Galatians 2:20 is his guidepost. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” he recited, in part, the Bible verse. “I think that just kind of reminds me who I am as a baseball player and as a person and as a man that God has made me to be.”
At DBU, Duzenack was the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. That season he also hit .278 with 49 RBIs and a career-high 15 home runs. He was a three-time All-MVC pick for DBU’s Patriots and was also selected National Player of the Week three times while there.
Duzenack was drafted last year as well, by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 23rd round, but he chose to finish his playing career and degree in Sports Management at DBU.
“The people of Melissa, especially up at the high school — the teachers and the coaching staff — a big thanks to them for helping me get to where I am,” Duzenack said. “I wouldn’t be here without them. They kind of set the foundation for how I grew up in that small town and who I am now. It was definitely a blessing to be able to say that Melissa High School was my home for four years. And I’ll always claim that town as my home town.”
Duzenack is the son of Ron and Tammy Duzenack.
“We feel that God has blessed him with a great opportunity here,” Ron Duzenack said. “It’s a great accomplishment. He’s wanted to get his shot at the major leagues for quite a while. We were obviously really excited. … His hope is to be, basically, a ‘missionary in the majors.’ When he first started at DBU, he said, ‘I would really like to be able to share my faith.’”
A 2013 Melissa graduate, Duzenack was a four-year letterman for the Cardinals. While here, he earned District MVP honors twice and was twice named a Second-Team All-State pick. As a freshman, Duzenack was selected District Newcomer of the Year and District Co-Offensive Player of the Year. He was a senior on the memorable Cardinal squad that made it all the way to the state tournament’s doorstep.
“We were clicking on all cylinders for most of the year,” Duzenack said. “If I remember correctly, we didn’t lose one game at home that entire year. … That was back in the day when I used to catch and pitch a little bit.”
Zach Torres was a first baseman and pitcher on that team and now plays for Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.
“I have much respect for that kid,” Torres said of Duzenack while assisting with the recent Melissa ISD baseball camp. “He’s a great player. Every day at practice, we kind of knew he was something special. He would do 110-percent, every rep, every ground ball – in practice. … It was a fun run,” Torres said of the 2013 playoffs. “We thought it was the year we could do it. We had all the tools, all the great players. We really wanted it but — it’s baseball.”
Duzenack’s coach at Melissa was Joe Williams. By phone from Aledo, Texas, Williams said he’s known Duzenack since he was a sixth grader.
“To see his work ethic and the time and commitment he put into the game of baseball, and his effort in the classroom — to see him get rewarded is a pretty cool thing,” Williams said. “It’s very well deserved.”
Williams became athletic director and head football coach at Whitewright in 2015 and is now quarterbacks coach at Aledo High to allow more time with family.
“Baseball talent-wise, (Duzenack) was always legit,” Williams said. “One of the better players, but I think he had all those intangibles that kind of separated him. We had some talented guys and we played against talented people, but I wouldn’t say anybody worked harder than Camden Duzenack.”
“Duzey, with Landon (Wilson) and a bunch of other players, they really changed the program,” Williams said. “Before he got to the high school, we’d had success in football, we’d had success in basketball and in baseball we were kind of the doormat. … When you watch Duzey in practice, it’s like watching a game. He’s got one gear, and that’s go all out — every day, every play. … Anytime he steps on the field, it’s the same Duzey — versus Texas or TCU or versus Bells his freshman year. He’s got the same motor.”
As for Cards’ deep playoff run, Williams said, “People knew we were going to be a good team. No one knew we were kind of going to be a great team. … We just got hot and Duzey had a heck of a playoff run. Duzey was the leader of that team.”
“Now that he’s got his foot in the door,” Williams added, “he’s about to do something special.”