Reds See Signs Of Progress With Duran





CINCINNATI—All Bill Bavasi had to see was one at-bat from Juan Duran to get an idea of the prgoress the outfielder has made.

Duran's at-bat came early in a spring big league game against the Angels in Tempe. Duran fell behind 0-2.

"He worked the count to 3-2 and then he hit a ball 400 feet to center," said Bavasi, the Reds vice president of scouting, player development and international operations. "It's 410 or 420 to center in Tempe. So it was an out. But it was terrific at-bat. A year or two ago, he would have struck out.

"I don't know what that will translate to as far as numbers in 2011, but he's gotten a lot better."

The Reds signed Duran, 19, for $2 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. Duran has sprouted a few inches since signing to 6-foot-7, and he'll have to adjust to his huge strike zone.

Since he signed the same year as Yorman Rodriguez signed for $2.5 million, Duran is often compared with the Venezuelan outfielder. The two played together the last two years, though Rodriguez has made quicker progress. He hit .339/.361/.456 with two home runs and 39 RBIs in 44 games at Rookie-level Billings last year. Duran hit .244/.309/.393 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 54 games.

But Duran has an interesting set of skills.

"He hits some monster home runs in batting practice," Reds assistant field coordinator Billy Doran said. "He's starting to do it more in games."

Duran, like Rodriguez and shortstop Billy Hamilton, opened the year at low Class A Dayton for Delino DeShields, who managed them last year in Billings.

"(Duran's) very intelligent," Bavasi said. "He speaks English better than any of our young Latin kids. He's starting to take on a leadership role."

RED HOTS

• Last year's top pick, catcher Yasmani Grandal, is starting the year at high Class A Bakersfield. The Reds considered starting him in Double-A. "It's a better place for him to get his feet on the ground," Bavasi said. "I don't know that he'll finish there."

• Outfielder Jeremy Hermida reported to Triple-A Louisville. The Reds gave Hermida a chance to look for a big league job after cutting him in camp.