Meet the very early-spring training star of Red Sox camp, Jarren Duran

Rob Bradford
February 27, 2020 - 7:36 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jarren Duran got thrown out stealing in Bradenton Wednesday. He is human after all.

Duran has undoubtedly surfaced himself as the player to watch through the first few days of spring training games, as we were reminded during that game against the Pirates in which he whacked an opposite-field homer while whacking another single to make him 4-for-6 with a couple of standout catches.

"Exciting player. Tool-wise, as good as it gets," said Red Sox interim manager Roenicke. "And that type of player, he’s thrilling to watch. He’s just, (with) the tools, he’s just one of those special guys. You know if it all comes together, you’ve got a superstar."

There are always a few early-spring training performances that break up the monotony of semi-meaningless baseball. In 2013 Jackie Bradley Jr. was that guy, with a pitcher named Allen Webster popping the radar gun at 99 mph to add to the conversations.

The point is, it's early. That's OK. If nothing else Duran is giving a taste of what the big-league team can count on in 2021.

The reason the 23-year-old is in major league camp is because of what he has shown leading up to this spring training. With the exception of a brief downturn upon being called up to Double-A, all Duran has done as a pro is hit.

In 50 Single-A games last season, he managed a .387 batting average and .998 OPS. And after admittedly trying to do too much with Portland, Duran finished his season claiming hits in seven of his last eight games.

"I learned to trust myself," Duran told WEEI.com. "I kind of got in my own way doubting myself a little bit. I think everyone goes through it. But believing I belong was the biggest thing for me. This was the first time in Double-A and everyone struggles. I just started trusting myself. I felt like I had to do more than I was doing in Salem and that hurt me. I was trying to do too much instead of playing my game. I thought I had to get more hits, maybe hit more home runs, drive in more runs, just do more. I ended up in a spot I was happy with."

There is a way to go before anointing to him the heir apparent to Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr., but right now the former second baseman (who once aspired to be a Navy SEAL) has offered some hope.

"I don’t know if it’s a long swing. I think it’s kind of learning his swing and learning the strike zone and trying to figure out what kind of hitter he is going to be," Roenicke said. "He’s a lot stronger this year than he was last year. So I don’t know, maybe he starts driving balls more, which would be great with his speed to hit balls in the gap and just watch him run. And I would think down the road, he’s going to have home run power. As strong as he is, and as quick as he can swing, I would think so."