Boston Red Sox prospect Jarren Dura has unreal speed
A hitter’s job with a runner on third base and fewer than two outs is to put the ball in play deep enough to drive his teammate home. If it ends up being an out, at least make it a productive out that gets the run in. If that runner is Boston Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran, he doesn’t necessarily need to be on third base.
The highly-touted prospect has been praised for his blazing speed during his ascent through the Red Sox farm system. During Sunday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins, Duran showed how that speed makes him a dangerous threat on the base paths.
A single by Jonathan Arauz to lead off the sixth inning was followed by a gift for Enrique Hernandez, who reached safely when center fielder Derek Fisher bobbled a routine fly ball. The miscue put both runners in scoring position for Rafael Devers. There isn’t a hitter in the Red Sox lineup who you would want up in that spot more than Devers. The same can be said for Duran on the bases once he entered as a pinch-runner for Hernandez.
After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Devers hammered a fastball up in the zone to deep center. Fisher raced back to make the running catch on the warning track but the ball was hit plenty deep to score Arauz from third to tie the game.
Duran wasn’t willing to settle for a tie game. He read the ball brilliantly off the bat and was ready to tag up as soon as the catch was made. Most players would be content to move up to third on that play but Duran flew around the bases to score all the way from second on the sac fly.
It’s not every day that you see two runs score on a sac fly without the aid of an error but Duran’s unreal speed made it possible.
The error by Fisher proved costly. If he had made that catch, Arauz would have been stuck at first base with one out and Duran may not have entered the game in the sixth inning. The ball Devers roped to center would have been a harmless loud out and the Red Sox probably would have spoiled their promising start to the inning by walking away empty handed.
Duran got his first taste of the majors last year when he appeared in 33 games for the Red Sox. The hype train was at full steam after displaying his emerging power in Triple-A Worcester to complement his elite speed.
The leap to the big leagues ended up being a steep learning curve that left Duran quickly over-matched. He hit a meager .215 with a .578 OPS in 107 at-bats. His strikeout rate was an alarming 35.7% and a frustrating lack of patience resulted in a 3.6 BB% during his brief stint in the majors.
Duran has the tools be successful at the big league level but he needs to drastically improve his plate discipline. He can’t hit the ball over the fence if he’s not making contact and he can’t take advantage of his speed if he isn’t on base.
The Red Sox were a station-to-station team last year that lacked a base stealing threat. Duran would significantly improve that weakness but he’s not ready for this stage yet. Boston can’t risk stalling his development by keeping him around on the bench for the occasional pinch-running opportunities. As much as they could use his speed off the bench, his long-term outlook is more important. In order to make the improvements he needs to work on with his plate discipline, Duran needs steady at-bats, which he won’t get right away in Boston.
Expect Duran to begin the season in Triple-A. If he’s thriving at that level, he’ll be only one phone call away. Duran’s potential to help this team later in the season is part of why the Red Sox didn’t spend on an expensive free-agent to replace Hunter Renfroe in right field.
Fans will get to see more of Duran this spring. If he continues to make breathtaking plays like the one he made today scoring from second base on a sac fly, the hype train will get rolling again soon.