Red Sox

There's more to Jarren Duran's potential for Red Sox than his speed

Red Sox

Jarren Duran's numbers suggest a Jacoby Ellsbury clone. But his rippling 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame calls to mind the wiry Christian Yelich.

One of the breakout performers of Red Sox camp before spring training came to a halt earlier this month, Duran has made a name for himself with high averages and higher stolen base totals since being selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, but physically he looks capable of developing power.

Which way he goes will go a long way towards determining how high his big-league ceiling rises.

"I'm OK with being the speed guy who gets on base for the bigger guys and lets them get their RBIs," Duran said during spring training. "I'm totally OK with that. I'll be the little guy that gets on base and steals bases. It doesn't bother me."

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In a breakout 2019, Duran hit over .400 for two months at High-A Salem before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland, where he came back to earth by batting .250 over 87 games. All told, he still hit .303 with five homers and 46 steals, establishing himself as one of the fastest players in the minors.

In his brief exposure to spring training, Duran hit .250 with a homer and triple, catching the eye of manager Ron Roenicke with his all-around athleticism, especially in the outfield, where the converted second baseman projects as a big league center fielder.

"Exciting player," Roenicke said. "Tools-wise, as good as it gets. And that type of player, he's thrilling to watch. Saw him run a little last year because he hit a couple of gappers for us. . . . The tools, he's just one of those special guys, if it all comes together, you've got a superstar."

 

That's getting ahead of the game, obviously, and Duran knows it. The 23-year-old hit. 387 at Salem before moving to Portland in June. He hit just .211 with a .543 OPS over his first month with the Sea Dogs before finding his sea legs. From July 21 through the end of the season, he hit .292 with a .740 OPS and 15 steals.

"I just had to put my head down and keep going," Duran said. "As soon as you think it can't be this easy, that's when the game will hit you. The game's going to get you. If you just keep your head down, keep working, you'll be fine.

"The competition was obviously better, but I just think I got in my own way," Duran continued. "Everybody is good, so you think, 'Do I belong here?' Everybody gets that little bit of self-doubt. I started figuring out toward the end, 'I can play here, I belong.' I think just getting out of my own way is my biggest enemy."

Duran's speed certainly played at Double-A. Over his final six weeks there, he hit .383 on balls in play. The adjustment was mental, particularly when it came to recognizing pitch sequencing.

"My speed will always be there," he said, "but pitchers being more in tune with their pitches, not being afraid to throw pitches in certain counts, was an adjustment I needed to make — knowing that, OK, he's not afraid to throw a changeup in a 3-1 count."

So what might the future hold? Duran is built to add power to his game. Ellsbury, after all, rose to the majors on his wheels and even stole 70 bases in 2009 before blasting 32 homers and leading the AL in total bases in 2011.

"I haven't really shown it yet," Duran says of his power, before shutting down any Ellsbury comparisons.

"Guys that are playing in the Show, I can't compare myself to them," he said. "They're in the big leagues, I'm not. I try to do my own thing, use my speed as much as I can."