This offseason, Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran has been playing for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League.
The 24-year-old got off to a slow start with his new team, accruing just three hits through his first 37 plate appearances, but has since picked things up.
Over the course of a three-game series against RA12 over the weekend, Duran went 7-for-13 (.538) at the plate with four RBI and five runs scored, raising his line on the season to a modest .250/.429/.278 through 11 games played. He also leads Caguas in stolen bases with six on the year thus far getting without getting caught.
Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 1 outfield prospect and No. 8 overall prospect, Duran is one of the fastest players in the Sox’ system.
FanGraphs grades the California native’s speed tool at a 70 out of 80, which trails only fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez for the best mark among Red Sox prospects.
In addition to his speed, Duran, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 187 lbs., made some adjustment to his swing last offseason and hit the ball further at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket over the summer as a result of said adjustments.
Portland Sea Dogs hitting coach Lance Zawadzki, among others, contributed to Duran’s swing evolution.
(For more on Zawadzki, check out this story from The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey)
“Working on my swing with Lance everyday here, Lance Zawadzki, and I worked with Doug Latta a little bit,” the Long Beach State product said back in August. “Just my swing path and cleaning things up, making things much simpler than they used to be, and just having a simple approach. I kind of owe it to those guys because I come here everyday and I grind it out with Lance everyday. Every day’s a struggle to find your swing. You can go home, not play baseball for a day, and it feels like you haven’t swung in two weeks.”
Though he is not yet on Boston’s 40-man roster, Duran very well could make his major-league debut at some point in 2021 given how close he already is.
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom seemed impressed with what the former seventh-round draft pick did in 2020 when speaking with reporters last month.
“He had a tremendous 2020,” Bloom said of Duran. “He made strides hitting-wise and physically, didn’t lose any of his speed. He just had a really good year. I think for all players who didn’t play at the major league level, and even for some of those who did — because we had a shorter season — it’s tougher to feel confident in exactly what you know about them. He came into the year as someone who had spent some time in Double-A, but not with particularly distinguished performance, and then you see him put the year together that he had, and we have to try to figure out what that all means.”
For now, expect Duran to begin the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester, though he will likely get plenty of time to shine once spring training begins in February.