Topic: Paul Lo Duca

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Paul Anthony Lo Duca (born April 12, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York) is a Major League Baseball catcher who is currently a free agent. Previously, Lo Duca played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2004), Florida Marlins (2004-2005, 2008), New York Mets (2006-2007), and Washington Nationals (2008).

Paul Lo Duca walked on to the baseball team at Glendale Community College (AZ) after he was not recruited or drafted out of high school. He hit .449 and .461 in his two years at the community college before transferring to Arizona State University. In 1993, the one year he played at ASU, Lo Duca was named The Sporting News Player of the Year, setting school records with a .446 batting average and 129 hits. He was also named a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award and his 37-game hitting streak is the second longest in school history.

Despite his college success, Lo Duca spent many years in the minor leagues, after being drafted in the 25th round of the 1993 Amateur Draft, finally achieving a breakthrough year with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001 at age 29. Lo Duca drew comparisons to Dodgers predecessors Mike Scioscia and Mike Piazza -- all three were capable and popular everyday catchers who were homegrown through the Dodgers' organization, and all three are of Italian-American ancestry. On the other hand, Lo Duca's primary strength is as a contact hitter, like Scioscia, but unlike the power-hitting Piazza. Lo Duca would forge another connection with Piazza in being traded away (to the Marlins, and eventually to the Mets) in two of the Dodgers' most unpopular trades in recent memory. Lo Duca still receives a warm response from fans whenever he visits Dodger Stadium.

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