Jarren Duran Can Now Get To Every Pitch
For roughly two months of 2019, outfielder Jarren Duran looked like a potential top-of-the-order force who might be capable of fast-tracking to the big leagues.
His 80-grade speed played not only on the bases but also opened the field in ways that threatened to turn nearly every batted ball into a hit and also eased his transition from the infield to an everyday role in center.
Duran, a 2018 seventh-rounder from Long Beach State, dominated to start his first full pro season, hitting .387/.456/.583 with 18 stolen bases in 50 games at high Class A Salem.
But a midyear promotion to Double-A proved challenging. Duran hit just .250/.309/.325 while his strikeout rate (23.9 percent) and groundball rate (50.6 percent) both surged at Portland.
The lefthanded batter has a natural all-fields approach that gives him a chance to hit for a high average, particularly given his ability to turn routine ground balls into hits. Even so, Double-A pitchers were able to beat Duran with fastballs on the inner part of the plate.
That resulted in relatively weak contact in the Eastern League and prompted questions about his ability to drive the ball with enough consistency to profile as more than a fourth outfielder.
The 23-year-old recognized the deficiency and made clear to the Red Sox his interest in attacking it during the offseason. He met for a few sessions with hitting consultant Doug Latta in an effort to simplify some of his movements to help him get to all pitches.
"I felt like (after working with Latta) I had more clearance on the inner half,” Duran said. "I always felt like that was a tough pitch for me. Now, I’m more open and clear. I can get every pitch with one swing.”
Duran's early spring results generated excitement. He drove a number of pitches in a way that turned heads in the first games of spring training. His performance this spring will dictate whether he opens the year back in Portland or in Triple-A Pawtucket.
— Righthander Roniel Raudes, who hadn’t faced hitters in a game since June 2018 and had Tommy John surgery in early 2019, threw against batters in an intrasquad game in early March.
— Chris Mears and Reed Gragnani moved from amateur scouting to player development, with Mears moving from a national pitching crosschecker role to a pitching coordinator position and Gragnani shifting from scouting the mid-Atlantic to assistant hitting coordinator.