On the same day former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. reportedly found a new home with the Milwaukee Brewers, his potential heir apparent had another strong showing in spring training action on Thursday afternoon.
Outfield prospect Jarren Duran — making his third start and fifth overall appearance of the spring — went 2-for-3 at the plate with one double, one home run, one RBI, and two runs scored against the Orioles in Sarasota.
The home run, which came off Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer, was one that was aided by the wind, but it also showed how strong Duran is.
“I don’t know if that ball is gone from April on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said with a masked smile while referring to the fact that Major League Baseball will implement deadened baseballs beginning on Opening Day. “Those are the ones that the balls are going to take away, but right now it counts.”
Boston may have gone on to drop Thursday’s contest to Baltimore by a final score of 6-3 in six innings, but Duran’s impressive offensive run to kick off the Grapefruit League campaign continued nonetheless.
Through his first five games of the spring, the 24-year-old is hitting .500 (5-for-10) to go along with two doubles, two homers, three RBI, and three runs scored in 11 trips to the plate thus far.
Having said that, it appears that Duran still has room to grow defensively in center field, as evidenced by a few of the decisions he made during the bottom half of the third inning on Thursday.
“There’s a man at first, a base hit to his right, he throws to third base, [the runner] gets to third, they advance,” Cora said. “Those are the things that are part of the equation. It’s good that he makes mistakes like that, so we can correct [them].”
Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.
Boston originally selected the California native in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State, where he primarily played second base.
Upon reporting to short-season Lowell shortly after signing with the club in 2018, Duran was moved to the outfield as Red Sox area scout Justin Horowitz believed he “had more potential based on his bat life and strength and that he could unlock greater defensive impact” in the outfield as opposed to the infield.
Since then, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Duran — listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs. — has emerged as the top outfield prospect in Boston’s farm system and one of, if not the fastest minor-leaguer the organization has to offer.
Combine his freakish strength, athleticism, and quickness with his desire to get better, and it becomes clear that the speedy outfielder should be making his major-league debut sooner rather than later.
“We’ve been saying all along, he’s a good athlete, he’s working on his craft swing-wise, and he keeps improving,” said Cora.
(Picture of Jarren Duran: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)