Red Sox: Get excited about outfield prospect Jarren Duran

PEORIA, AZ - OCTOBER 16: Jarren Duran #18 of the Peoria Javelinas (Boston Red Sox) bats against the Salt River Rafters during an Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex on October 16, 2019 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PEORIA, AZ - OCTOBER 16: Jarren Duran #18 of the Peoria Javelinas (Boston Red Sox) bats against the Salt River Rafters during an Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex on October 16, 2019 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Outfield prospect Jarren Duran has a bright future with the Red Sox.

The outlook for this season is gloomy for the Boston Red Sox but the future remains bright. One reason to be optimistic is the progress of outfield prospect Jarren Duran.

The 23-year-old has been tearing it up at the alternate site in Pawtucket this summer. Known more for his speed than the pop in his bat, Duran totaled a mere five home runs in 132 games split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland last year. He’s packed on some muscle and made some adjustments to his swing since then with the goal of improving his power production.

The changes appear to be paying off. Duran smashed his fifth home run since simulated games began in Pawtucket, equaling is total form last season. You could tell from the crack of the bat that Duran had crushed the ball that flew over the bullpen in right field.

Duran hit .303/.367/.408 across two minor league levels last year. The home run power had yet to emerge but he did tally 24 doubles and eight triples. He’s capable of racking up the extra-base hits and if his power surge in Pawtucket is a sign of his developing home run potential then Duran is poised to be a force in the lineup.

Baseball America ranked Duran as the top hitter for batting average in the Red Sox system. He possesses elite speed, stealing 46 bases last year. His speed also helps him track down balls hit to center field where he projects to be above-average at the position. If Duran exceeds expectations in the power department to blend that skill with his strong batting average and speed, we’re talking about a potential five-tool stud.

Duran is giving us plenty of reasons to be excited about what he can bring to the table but the Red Sox are in no rush to call him up to the majors. There was some thought that the departure of Kevin Pillar at the trade deadline would open a spot for Duran but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke pumped the breaks on that concept, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

"“I know we talked about him but I think Chaim (Bloom) and his crew feel that he is a ways away and didn’t want to rush bringing him up here and playing him,” said Roenicke. “I look at his reports all the time, and he’s doing well. But he’s still got some development and there’s a guy that we need to really take care of and do the right things because this could be a pretty special player.”"

Fans are understandably eager to salvage this miserable season by at least getting a glimpse of their promising prospects but the team needs to do what’s best for the player’s development. Duran has been impressive in Pawtucket but keep in mind that he’s facing fringe major league-caliber pitchers or prospects who are still developing. He only has 82 games at Double-A under his belt. The Red Sox are doing what they can to nurture their prospects with simulated games at the alternate site but it’s not the same as a normal minor league season.

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We see the highlights that provide a taste of his potential but that doesn’t mean Duran doesn’t have more to work on. He didn’t walk much following his promotion to Double-A last year, posting a subpar 6.5 BB% while seeing his strikeout rate jump to a 23.9 K% in 352 plate appearances. His Single-A track record shows he should improve in both areas but moving up a level is a big adjustment for young hitters.

Full statistics for these simulated games in Pawtucket aren’t readily available to the public but the Red Sox are surely keeping track. Perhaps they haven’t seen enough improvement in certain areas to consider throwing him into the fire of the big leagues.

We also have to consider the logistics of calling up Duran even if he is deemed ready for this level. He’s in the 60-man player pool but not on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox would need to remove a player in order to add him. Why waste a potential asset just to rush a prospect to the majors? It’s not as if Duran’s arrival is suddenly going to change the team’s fortunes for this year.

We might get a brief glimpse of Duran before the season is over but there’s no need to push him before he’s ready simply because the trade deadline opened a spot. He should be firmly in the mix for a roster spot at some point next season and could be the center field solution if Jackie Bradley Jr. bolts in free agency and the Red Sox don’t spend on a proven replacement.

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The Red Sox don’t have a deep farm system and Duran isn’t even the highest ranked prospect in the organization. He is getting close to major league ready though and his skill set along with his encouraging performance in Pawtucket warrants keeping an eye on this promising young outfielder.