It had seemed for most of this winter’s prospect season that the top four for the Boston Red Sox organization was almost set in stone, with Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, Nick Yorke, and Jarren Duran making it up in some order. That was thrown a bit for a loop Monday morning when Keith Law’s top 100 list came out with Brayan Bello coming in as the team’s fourth representative on the list, but our Over the Monster community list has kept the status quo. In a fairly easy battle, Duran took the number four spot on our list, grabbing 61% of the vote.
After our list started with three consecutive first round selections — the last three Red Sox first round picks, in fact — we finally move a little bit down the draft board with Duran. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft (the same year in which Casas was selected), taken out of Cal State-Long Beach as a second baseman. The Red Sox were excited about the pick right away, seeing some tweaks that could be made to maximize his skillset at the plate as well as in the field.
The latter portion was fairly straight-forward, as the organization saw Duran’s athleticism and moved him off of the keystone position and out to center field. Meanwhile, they tried to alter his swing a bit coming out of college to clean those mechanics up, and the results immediately spoke for themselves. Duran immediately jumped on to the radar in his first taste of pro ball, putting up a .910 OPS between Lowell and Greenville. He’d come back in 2019 and was again just dominating minor-league pitching, hitting .303/.367/.409 in that first full season as a pro, ending the year in Double-A Portland.
Now, even with that being said, Duran did run into some troubles for the first time as a pro when he was promoted up to Portland, and many were anxious to see how he’d adjust in his second full season. Unfortunately, COVID had other ideas and the minor-league season was cancelled. Even with that, Duran became the rare prospect to notably increase his stock during the shutdown. Putting on more muscle and adjusting his swing once again to create more loft, he hit for more power than anyone ever expected at the Alternate Site, and continued to prove the changes were for real in Winter Ball.
That made him one of the most intriguing players in Red Sox camp leading into the 2021 season, and Duran couldn’t help but put himself in the spotlight again. The outfielder showed off the vast potential in spring training competition, and carried that performance through the waiting period for the start of the minor-league season and into Worcester. Running up to his initial call up to the majors, Duran hit .270/.365/.561 over the first 46 games of his Triple-A career, hitting 15 homers in the process. Now, some of that was due to Worcester’s absurd hitter-friendly tendencies, but the hype was off the charts by this point.
Unfortunately, the adjustment to the majors proved to be a tough one for Duran, whose swing and miss concerns showed up in bigger ways. In 112 plate appearances with Boston, he hit just .215/.241/.336 for a 46 wRC+ in his first taste of major-league action. Now, the jump from Triple-A to the majors is as tough now as it’s been in a very long time, but whatever the reason it’s impossible to deny there’s a bit of a sour taste in people’s mouths when it comes to Duran’s prospect profile after that showing.
As far as the scouting report goes, it’s pretty straight forward for Duran at this point. Defensively, he has all of the tools to be a good center fielder, but he’s still raw enough at the position that he needs to hone in on his routes and general instincts to be able to stick there. I’m a believer, but there’s a chance he’ll have to settle in as a left fielder despite the big speed. Offensively, the power/speed combination is one that provides a huge ceiling in the majors, but it’ll all come down to the amount of contact he makes. Always a high contact player before the adjustment between 2019 and 2021, Duran struck out a whopping 36 percent of the time in the majors last season.
That performance all but certainly cost Duran a chance to start the 2022 season in Boston, and potentially with a spot in the starting lineup, but he’ll have his chance to play himself back into the lineup. While the expectation is he’ll start this coming season back in Worcester, whether it be injury or performance he will almost certainly get another chance to prove he can handle major-league pitching. If he comes up short again, it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. But everything else we’ve seen indicates he deserves another real chance before we even think about writing him off.
Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number five prospect. 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. We encourage discussion, of course, but please don’t comment under specific players’ names. Instead, scroll to the bottom to start a new comment thread in order to keep the players at the top of the comment section. Until next time...