- Full name Joseph Adam Durbin
- Born 02/24/1982 in Portland, OR
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Coronado
- Debut 09/08/2004
Drafted in the 2nd round (54th overall) by the Minnesota Twins in 2000 (signed for $722,000).
View Draft ReportA solid second-round projection, Durbin has edged ahead of fellow Arizona State signee Ryan Schroyer as Arizona's top high school prospect. Despite being only 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Durbin is a warrior on the mound. He was an all-state wide receiver and carries a football mentality to the mound. He has plus stuff from a three-quarters release point--a fastball up to 94 mph and hard, biting slider. He went 10-2, 0.95 with 135 strikeouts and 13 walks in 85 innings this spring.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Durbin dubbed himself "The Real Deal"early in his career, when he threw upper-90s gas and reached Minnesota at age 22. Then he was derailed by surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in 2004 and shoulder tendinitis in 2005. He was rolling in 2006 until missing the last two months with a nerve problem in his biceps, which didn't require surgery. Durbin still ranks among the Twins' hardest-throwing starters. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph and he still can reach back for more. His curveball, which managers rated the best in the Triple-A International League, is a power low-80s breaker that comes out of his hand looking like a fastball. He has improved his ability to throw his curve and changeup for strikes. He has matured into a gamer and takes his job more seriously. The missed time the last three years not only clouds Durbin's durability, but it also cost him development time he needed to hone his control. He was more pitch-efficient this season but still needs to improve in that regard. If he can't hold up, he may have to move to the bullpen. Just when he had turned the corner, Durbin had to combat one more obstacle with his biceps injury. He's out of options, so 2007 is likely his last chance with Minnesota. The Twins rotation has holes, and a healthy Durbin could step forward and seize a spot.
Two straight years with shoulder problems have raised questions about Durbin's durability and future role. He missed six weeks with shoulder tendinitis last year after May 2004 surgery to shave his labrum and repair a partial tear. A fastball that once hit 101 mph stayed in the 94-96 mph range last year. For a brash type who dubbed himself "Real Deal," this required mental adjustments. Durbin tends to fight himself when things aren't going his way and sometimes gets too caught up in what others think about him. It didn't help when he saw Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker zoom by on their way to the majors. To Durbin's credit, he followed organizational wishes and went to the Venezuelan League in order to work on his changeup, a necessity if he wants to remain a starter. He has shown a hard curveball and tight slider as well, but they remain inconsistent. With all the young starting pitching in their system, the Twins could move Durbin to the bullpen.
Known for his confidence and brash personality, Durbin has dubbed himself "Real Deal." Stalled by minor shoulder surgery in May to shave his labrum and repair a partial tear, he came back strong. He touched 97 mph and allowed two earned runs or fewer in his first seven starts to earn a promotion to Triple-A and later a September callup. Durbin flashes a mid-90s fastball and maintains his velocity deep into games. He reached triple digits in the Arizona Fall League. He has a power curveball that's the system's best and a slider he can pump at 87 mph. He showed improved mound presence and did a better job of pitching to contact in 2004. Durbin needs more polish before he's ready to start in the majors. He still needs to improve his changeup and sharpen his location, though he made strides with the change last season. Some scouts think his size, stuff and mentality will fit better in the bullpen. Durbin could get a shot at Minnesota's rotation in 2005 but most likely will break in as a middle reliever.
Nicknamed "Real Deal," Durbin oozes confidence and personality. He was a two-way star in high school and also was recruited as a wide receiver. He made two scoreless appearances in relief for Team USA at the Olympic qualifying tournament. Durbin attacks hitters with a 94-95 mph fastball, which he can maintain deep into games, and a pair of deadly breaking balls. He uses a slurvy-breaking curveball, keeping his 87 mph slider in reserve. With a compact yet full-effort delivery, he's able to repeat his mechanics and fill the strike zone with quality offerings. Some scouts doubt Durbin's size and delivery will hold up in a starting role. He must continue to establish his changeup and build confidence in the pitch. More often than not, it comes in as a batting-practice fastball and gets crushed. He has to stay on top of his pitches to avoid flattening them out. Durbin likely will be the Opening Day starter in Triple-A. He should make his big league debut in 2004, and the lack of a clear-cut closer in Minnesota could present an opportunity for him.
A two-way stud as a righthander/outfielder in high school, Durbin also was recruited as a wide receiver. A $722,500 bonus kept him away from his Arizona State commitment. After signing in 2000, he was limited to two innings by a sore elbow, which gave him trouble again in 2001. An adjustment to Durbin's approach helped him develop into a prospect. Instead of trying to strike out every hitter, he learned to trust his stuff and pitch. He still led the Midwest League in whiffs, as hitters had a difficult time catching up to his 91-92 mph fastball and his darting slider, the best breaking pitch in the system. He can reach back for more velocity and touched 95 every time he took the mound. With his track record and size, Durbin's durability will be monitored closely. His changeup has improved but isn't consistently average yet. One scout who saw him in the MWL thought he had a long arm action and might be better suited for the bullpen. After making progress with his command, control and mound presence, Durbin could move quickly. He'll advance to high Class A in 2003.
Durbin was named Arizona's high school player of the year in 2000 after he went 10-2, 0.84 with 135 strikeouts in 85 innings on the mound and hit .475-12-53 as an outfielder. He also earned all-state recognition as a wide receiver. The Twins swayed him away from an Arizona State baseball scholarship with a $722,500 bonus. Durbin's pro career began inauspiciously with a tender elbow limiting him to two innings in 2000. His coming-out party was stalled by a soreness again last season, but he provided an exciting glimpse of the future in his eight appearances. Durbin touched 97 mph, sat at 91-92 and showed a filthy slider compared to the best in the organization. Minnesota scouting director Mike Radcliff likens Durbin's aggressiveness to Adam Johnson's. After shouldering a heavy workload in high school, Durbin just needs to get healthy and learn to repeat his delivery before stepping forward into the upper echelon of Twins prospects.
With four pitchers from the 2000 draft class in the Top 30 (and former University of Minnesota backup quarterback Andy Persby just missing), the Twins are optimistic about their pitching future. Durbin missed most of his first summer of pro ball because of elbow tendinitis, but he didn't need surgery. He's a little undersized but makes up for it with tenacity. He throws plus stuff from a three-quarters release point. His fastball touches 94 mph and he has a hard, late-breaking slider. Minnesota's brass can't wait to see more of Durbin when he's fully healthy in 2001.
Minor League Top Prospects
Durbin had minor surgery on his right shoulder in May but rebounded nicely, returning from a six-week layoff without losing much zip on his best pitch: a lively mid-90s fastball. Durbin's delivery has never been free and easy, and at 6 feet, some scouts wonder if the labrum shaving this year was an indication of more arm problems in his future. His performance following the procedure suggests he is healthy, as he touched 97 mph and allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven starts following the surgery, then joined Triple-A Rochester. As always, he pitched with tenacity and has a good mound presence. Durbin also made strides with his changeup this year, as he looks for a reliable second offspeed offering to complement his 87-88 mph slurvy breaking ball.
Durbin increased the velocity of his heavy fastball and starred in two leagues. He joined his batterymate Mauer at the Futures Game and in Double-A for the second half. Durbin's fastball was the FSL's best, touching 98 mph and sitting in the mid-90s with heavy sinking action. He also added depth and power to his breaking ball. He has a tenacious attitude with an intimidating edge, which might serve him well as a reliever. Some scouts say his height (6 feet), arm action and lack of a solid third pitch may make him better suited for the bullpen.
Like McGowan, Durbin has a mid-90s fastball that he can dial up to 96 on occasion. His curveball also has the potential to be a plus pitch. But where McGowan's motion is free and easy, Durbin is more of a maximum-effort guy. And while McGowan is a thick 6-foot-3, Durbin is 6 feet tall. Add in Durbin's high-energy, emotional approach, and some believe he may be better suited as a reliever down the road. "I liked everything about him," Machemer said. "He's a fierce competitor who comes out and comes after you." The biggest concern about Durbin is that he tends to drop his arm slot at times. That flattens out his pitches and makes him easy to hit, no matter how hard he's throwing.
Durbin has two power pitches, so it was no surprise that he led the MWL in strikeouts. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph with good life, and he's learning to impart more sink to it. His out pitch is a plus-plus curveball that ranked with Levinski's as the top righthanded breaking ball in the league. Durbin still has a lot of work remaining. His changeup lacks consistency, though he does show some feel for it. His arm action is long in the back of his delivery. That makes it tough for him to throw on a downward plane and to repeat his motion, which costs him control. One scout compared him to Jason Marquis and thought Durbin might be better off coming out of the bullpen and going full bore for shorter stints. His intensity would translate well to a late-inning role.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the International League in 2006
- Rated Best Curveball in the Minnesota Twins in 2005
- Rated Best Fastball in the Minnesota Twins in 2005