Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran
Jarren Duran turned some heads with a blistering performance during spring training last year. We had heard whispers of his emerging power when he was at the team’s alternate site in Pawtucket in 2020 but the cancelled minor league season prevented us from getting a proper glimpse of his improvement until last spring.
An impressive camp led to a strong start to his season in Triple-A Worcester leading up to his major league debut in July. Unfortunately, his first taste of the big leagues proved to be a challenge.
Duran hit a meager .215 with a .578 OPS in 33 games with the Red Sox last season. He showed flashes of power with three doubles, two triples and a pair of homers but his .336 SLG was very underwhelming. His blazing speed is one of his calling cards but he stole only two bases in three attempts.
A demotion back to the minors helped Duran find his swing again. He ended the year hitting .258 with an .873 OPS, 16 home runs and 16 steals in 60 games at the Triple-A level.
The Red Sox have shaken up their outfield this offseason, creating a potential opening for Duran. Granted, they might not be done shopping in free agency or exploring the trade market to add an outfielder once the lockout is lifted. As it stands, Duran’s upside at the plate exceeds what we can expect from the returning Jackie Bradley Jr.
Duran could potentially push the veteran center fielder into a reserve role as a defensive replacement by earning a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring. If training camp is cut short as teams rush to prepare for the season to begin on time, the focus will shift toward giving playing time to those locked into roster spots. Players like Duran hoping to win a position battle will have fewer opportunities to shine in that scenario.
If Duran doesn’t break camp with the major league team, he’ll still have a chance to get called up mid-season if he performs well in Worcester. A shortened season would leave him with a shorter window to prove himself.
The longer he has to wait to spend meaningful time on the major league roster, the longer it takes for him to reach arbitration eligibility and free agency. The 25-year-old should be ready to graduate from prospect status this year but fewer opportunities in a truncated training camp or a shorter season could be a setback that prevents him from completing his rookie season.