As we get deeper into our community top Red Sox prospects list, the list of potential options at each spot gets larger and the margin between individual players shrinks in size. That led to the closest race we’ve had thus far, and one that was tied mere hours before this was written. In the end, the winner and our number 14 prospect is also the fourth prospect on the list so far who was selected in last year’s amateur draft. Jarren Duran got 13 of 35 (37 percent) of the votes and takes the number 14 spot.
Duran was not exactly a highly-touted name heading into last June’s draft, though the Cal State Long Beach junior was a top-200 draft prospect from Baseball America. As it turns out, he’d have to wait a bit after the 200th pick to be selected, as the Red Sox took the then-infielder with the 220th overall pick in the sixth round. Duran didn’t really fit the bill of the team’s previous selections, who were mostly power hitters with some hit tool questions. Instead, Duran had some hit tool questions of his own but instead of bringing power to the table he brought 70-grade speed and just general athleticism. The Red Sox were fond of that skillset at this position, and eventually signed him to a slot-level deal worth $189,800.
After signing, the then 21-year-old (he turned 22 last September) was sent to Lowell and he absolutely feasted on New York-Penn League pitching. With the Spinners, Duran received 168 plate appearances in 37 games and hit a stellar .348/.393/.548. He didn’t walk as much as you might expect, but I don’t get the sense it was from poor discipline. Instead, he just mashed any strike he got, and while he only hit two home runs he used his speed and took advantage of some bad lower-level defense to rack up an absurd ten triples. He also stole 12 bases and hit five doubles. He also successfully transitioned to the outfield after spending his college career on the dirt. Duran did play some infield as well while in Lowell.
It was clear he was not being challenged at that level, and he was promoted up to Greenville in short order. There, Duran finished the season with 134 plate appearances in 30 games and hit .367/.396/.477. It wasn’t quite as good as his line in Lowell, but it was still outstanding. Again, Duran didn’t walk much but he put the ball in play and made the most of those balls in play. Opposing defenses were also more sound, so he only had one triple but did smack nine doubles in that short time. He also stole another 12 bases. These were both small-sample performances, of course, but Duran’s first year of professional ball was an undeniable success.
After that performance and given his athleticism, some may wonder why Duran isn’t more highly rated. For as exciting as he is — and this is exactly my favorite type of profile in a player — there’s not a massive ceiling. Maybe his hit tool is better than most think — scouts generally see average potential here — but there just isn’t much power. That hinders any potential, particularly as an outfielder. The speed is a legitimate plus tool and will help mask his inexperience in the field not to mention the damage it can do on the bases. This is the type of profile that is generally underrated in this writer’s opinion, and as long as he continues to make contact at a high rate there is a good chance Duran can be a solid regular in the majors, even if his chances for stardom is very low.
Though you could make the case that Duran could be handled aggressively and put directly into Double-A after he crushed his pro debut, chances are the organization will take a more conventional path and have him start the year in High-A Salem. If he gets off to a hot start, though, expect to hear a lot of buzz and potentially see a relatively early promotion up the ladder.
Here is our full list to this point:
- Michael Chavis
- Darwinzon Hernandez
- Triston Casas
- Bobby Dalbec
- Jay Groome
- Tanner Houck
- Durbin Feltman
- Bryan Mata
- Antoni Flores
- Mike Shawaryn
- C.J. Chatham
- Nick Decker
- Brandon Howlett
- Jarren Duran
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number fifteen. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...