Written by: Adam Weil
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Red Sox No. 7 Prospect OF Jarren Duran | Portland Seadogs (AA)
24 Years Old | Throws: R | Bats: L | 6’2″ | 187lbs | ETA: 2021
Drafted in the 7th round out of Cal State Long Beach in 2018, Jarren Duran was listed as a 2B. The Red Sox decide shortly thereafter to move him to the outfield and he has been there since. Duran has the classic athlete build that looks like he can play any sport. Three words to describe his abilities would be quick, explosive and fast, his athleticism cannot be overstated. He started off his career as a true speed first, get the ball in play and beat out the throw, kind of guy that we rarely see anymore. Somewhat reminiscent of the 80’s style, he was once quoted as saying “I can’t beat out a fly ball”. He had lived by this theory for a good portion of his career exhibiting virtually no power and believing his role was to get on base and let the bigger guys hit him in. To start his career that is exactly what he did.
Duran made his pro debut in 2018 with the Lowell Spinners, and there he slashed .348/.393/.548/.941 getting 17 XBH and 12 SBs in the process. By August he was playing in A Greenville and picked up right where he left off. 30 games later he was hitting .367/.396/.477/.872, with 9 more doubles, a triple, a home run and 12 more SBs. 2019 was more of the same, the Red Sox remained aggressive in his development and he continued to impress. He started off in A+ Salem hitting .387/.456/.543/.998 before moving up to AA Portland. He started to struggle a little there when pitchers started to pitch him more with inside fastballs. He then underwent a swing change that offseason changing two key components. He lowered his hands pre-load, and his swing path is now flatter. This swing change has allowed him to unlock the power that he previously was not getting to and has changed his career arc. At the alternative training site and in the Caribbean Series this winter the power was evident and showed this swing change may be real.
Jarren Duran has shown his innate ability to hit. He has slightly above average bat control and his bat speed is good and when he squares the ball up, he does damage. He weaponizes his speed, allowing him to steal hits by beating out groundballs and he takes pride in his ability to bunt the ball. He has shown the ability to use the whole field and frequently does, evidenced by his spray chart.
Duran’s real weapon (outside of the speed) is his patience, in 2019 he improved his walk rate from 5.3% to 8.86% of the time. While likely unsustainable, in 2020 he walked 17 times across 100 PAs in the Winter league and Caribbean Series. He has a good knowledge of the strike zone and shows a high level of maturity in the box. However, with the new swing change has added a bit of swing-and-miss to his game. His K rate has gone up from 15.89% in 2018 to 22.15% in 2019. (It did drop down to 21% in 2020). While he is far from the perfect hitter, he takes what the pitcher gives him and combined with his plus-plus speed he has the tools to be a top of the order OBP machine.
As I have mentioned before, power was almost completely absent pre-swing change. He hit 3 Homeruns in 2018 and followed that up with 5 in 2019. His quick hands allowed him to generate good bat speed, but it was not leading to in game power. However, the swing change has been a noticeable improvement adding some loft to his swing, along with quieting the hands, allowing him to tap into some of his power in game. Just watch this pretty swing from the Caribbean Series.
Manager Alex Cora said it best when describing Duran’s performance this year. Cora was quoted as saying “He’s putting on a show”. His new setup has improved, among other things, the bat path, and a more consistent and better launch angle. I have mentioned it nearly a dozen times now so I will let you judge for yourself, but this change appears to be for the better and appears to be real.
The quality of contact has improved and paired with his plus-plus speed he can churn out extra base hits. His power will never be that of a true power threat, but progress is progress, and he could easily find himself getting 15-18 Homers a year.
Defense: 45/50 – Arm: 40/40
He started at 2B in college, so Duran is newer to the OF. His speed being his biggest weapon, may also be slowing his development. His read off the bat needs to improve, and his route choices are inefficient. While position changes are difficult and take time, especially from Infield to CF, he has allowed himself to depend too much on his speed. BUT I personally do not believe this will be a permanent issue. As evidenced by the effort to improve his swing, Duran does not shy away from effort. Staff and scouts have raved about his work ethic and his approach to the game. While he currently has the occasional misplay, he has the potential to reach average defense as long as the necessary improvements are made. His arm, while accurate, has some undesired arc to it. When he puts his body into it, his arm strength is fringe average at best but is more likely better described as below average. He probably does not have the arm strength to man Right field, but as he progresses it will likely be fine for what appears to be his future home at centerfield. (especially if they do not resign JBJ).
All that is left to discuss is his premier tool; is his plus-plus speed. I honestly toyed with the idea of giving him the 80-grade here because I have seen some reports saying he has run sub 4 home to first, but I ultimately decided to hold off. Jarren Duran has a quick first step, accelerates well, and has great top speed. This really allows him to chase down almost any fly ball in the outfield and allows him to turn singles into doubles. Has the potential to be an absolute nightmare for any pitcher when he gets on the basepaths and with his ability to make contact, he has the potential to get on and swipe bags frequently. As he continues to mature, he is unlikely to lose much if any speed.
Overall: 50 FV
I am admittedly bullish on Jarren Duran, but this guy has the athleticism, work ethic and ability to become a real asset to the Red Sox. The swing change has really fixed his only real glaring issue, and as long as the defense and power continue to improve, and he keeps an eye on the K rate I believe this rating could improve further. His floor is in my opinion is a speedy 4th OF, but he has improved his ceiling to be a top of the order CF that could be an OBP monster. This is personally one of my favorite prospects because he is exciting and has a clear drive to reach his ceiling. At his peak, a 20/20 season or 2 is a possibility.
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