The Red Sox 2018 draft class was headlined by injuries. Their two top picks, Triston Casas and Nick Decker, played a combined four games in 2018. However, some of the later picks, like Jarren Duran, inspired hope for the rest of the draft class. Duran entered the system as a second baseman but has all the raw tools to make it as a center fielder in the big leagues.
Red Sox Prospects: Jarren Duran
The first thing that jumps off the page when looking at Duran is his elite speed. The 22-year old prospect is arguably the fastest player in the entire system, boasting plus-plus speed with 30-base stealing potential.
Additionally, Duran is above average with the bat. Splitting time between the Lowell Spinners and the Greenville Drive, Duran posted a .357/.394/.516 slash line with a 163 wRC+. He doesn’t have much of a power profile, but Duran finished the year with 14 doubles and an astonishing 11 triples in just 302 plate appearances. Duran can take what the pitchers give him and utilize every portion of the field.
Duran is currently a second baseman, but his speed gives him the potential to become a strong outfielder. The 22-year old never played outfield in his life, yet the Red Sox put him out there to see what he could do. While he’s still clearly uncomfortable with the transition, his speed and natural reflexes allowed him to be serviceable with the glove. His defense should only improve as the years go on and he gets more experience.
What To Work On
As promising as Duran was, there are still a few things he needs to work on. First and foremost, he’ll need to work on his defense in the outfield. There’s really no overstating Duran’s speed, and putting him at second is just wasting his gift. If he can transform into a decent outfielder, his value as a prospect will increase tenfold.
On top of that, Duran needs to defend against his regression from batted ball luck. As previously mentioned, Duran finished his 2018 season with an impressive .357/.394/.516 slash line. However, those numbers were somewhat inflated by an unsustainably-high .412 BABIP (batting average on balls in play).
This number will go down next year, but not as much as one might expect. Duran’s speed allows him to beat out infield singles at a higher rate than just about everyone, so his BABIP should remain higher than league average. That said, it probably won’t stay in the 400’s, so he’ll need to work on finding other ways to get on base.
The best way to do that is by getting better at taking pitches. Duran walked on just 5.3% of his at-bats this season, which is a lower rate than one would hope for. Because Duran doesn’t have much power, he’ll need to get on base as much as possible in order to be effective. Getting better at earning free passes will not only increase his value at the plate, but it will also give him more chances to use his top speed to make plays on the bases.
While he lacks a superstar ceiling, Jarren Duran has the ability to be an every-day starter if everything breaks right. Duran already has elite speed, and the Red Sox are working on teaching Duran the nuances of playing the outfield. If he can take these teachings to heart, then Duran will only improve his prospect stock.
Duran doesn’t have power in his bat, but he’s capable of hitting the ball to all portions of the field and taking what the pitchers give him. His speed allows him to take the extra base on anything close, meaning that he really only needs to make contact to have a safe chance of getting on safely.
Duran played college baseball, so he’s a little bit older than the average Low-A minor leaguer. Because of this, he should shoot through the system faster than the high school prospects.
Even if things don’t break right for him, Duran should still make it to the majors someday. His speed is good at any level, and his defensive versatility makes him a valuable depth piece. It’s obviously early, but it looks like the Red Sox hit on their 2018 seventh-round pick.
Red Sox Prospects Master List