Jarren Duran, the No. 3 prospect in the Red Sox organization, was called up on July 15th after putting together a sparkling early stretch in Triple-A Worcester. The highly-touted center fielder had batted .270 in 46 games with the club, putting on a power display with 15 homers and 32 runs driven in.
However, Duran hasn’t been able to stay red-hot with the big league club. Through his first month in the pros, he has batted just .215 with two home runs and a minimal .599 OPS. Duran also carries an unfavorable 37.8% strikeout percentage since his callup. Strikeouts are becoming the norm for some players, but that’s too high for not just Duran, but even the average sell out for the home run guy, like Joey Gallo. He has a wRC+ of just 54, while his chase rate isn’t ideal, at
But despite his big league struggles, Red Sox fans shouldn’t worry about the rookie; here’s why.
In 2014, Red Sox Director of Major League Operations Zack Scott estimated that a player’s adjustment to major league pitching can be expected to last about 600 plate appearances (Homegrown: How The Red Sox Built a Champion From The Ground Up).
This number is roughly the length of a full season, as Duran has only stepped up to the plate 79 times for Boston, it is illogical to make judgements on his potential, now or in the near future. The 600 PA estimation has proven to be accurate time and time again. Take franchise cornerstone Xander Bogaerts for example.
Despite hitting the ground running upon his debut in late 2013, through 2014, the shortstop had batted just .217 through 644 plate appearances. He had just 13 homers in that span, and was slugging a meager .363. In 2015, Xander’s bat-to-ball skills exploded as he hit .320 with a .355 on-base percentage in 613 at bats.
While his home run power remained to be seen, he was a doubles machine with 35 on the year, and his slugging percentage jumped to .421. Of course, Bogaerts and Duran had different scouting reports entering the league, but Bogaerts (among other players) validates the 600 PA approximation.
Keeping this approximation in mind, it is unjust to assess Duran’s value until we’ve seen him across a full season’s worth of plate appearances.
Additionally, Duran has shown an uncanny maturity level for a player his age.
“As far as work ethic and all of that, he’s amazing,” said manager Alex Cora about Duran. “He’s very structured. He understands what it takes to post every day. Although he’s not playing every day, he prepares himself. We’re very, very excited because of that. All the guys can actually learn from him.”
This preparedness will help Duran tap into his potential as an everyday outfielder, and it’s not something that comes often with young players. Additionally, he has shown an ability to remain level headed and positive throughout the ups and downs of his young career (with some help from his teammates).
“(My teammates) have been very welcoming, and like, just keeping me positive when I’m not doing so good at the plate or anything like that,” said Duran.
Duran has previously shown a willingness to adjust his mechanics and improve at whatever it takes. Entering the 2021 season, Duran had shown virtually no power throughout his minor league career. Throughout 2018 and 2019, he had hit only 17 long balls in 1694 at-bats in multiple levels. While he tallied double-digit triples in both 2018 and 2019 due to his incredible speed, he had trouble lifting the ball and driving it to all fields.
That changed prior to this season, when he started to begin with his hands at his chest pre-pitch, before bringing them back as part of his load. This gave Duran an immediate increase in lift and power, which was clear at the 2020 alternate training site, and which led to his breakout 2021 campaign (15 home runs in 189 at bats). According to soxprospects.com, Duran’s changes to his swing were done entirely on his own, and were not the organization’s doing.
While the first returns from Jarren Duran haven’t been jaw dropping, Red Sox fans shouldn’t be concerned about their young outfielder. He is far from being out of the adjustment period, and he has impressed coaches and players with his maturity and preparedness. These traits, along with his readiness to alter his swing, will allow him to electrify the baseball field for years to come. The Red Sox have a potential star on their hands in Jarren Duran, and he will be a key component to Boston’s success for the foreseeable future.
(Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)