The top Red Sox prospect who once strived to become a Navy SEAL

Rob Bradford
September 19, 2019 - 10:33 pm

Jarren Duran isn't much of a secret anymore.

The outfielder was named Baseball America's Single-A Player of the Year and the Red Sox' Minor League Baserunner of the Year. When it comes to Red Sox prospects, he is at the top of most lists.

There is, however, one piece of Duran's puzzle that few people know about which would have sent the California native in a dramatically different direction.

Just six years ago he almost committed to striking out on a path to become a Navy SEAL.

"I just kind of kept it to myself," Duran said while being honored at Fenway Park Thursday afternoon. "Talked to my parents a little bit about it."

By the time his senior year at Cypress (CA) High came around Duran didn't have any college scholarship offers, having had to sit out most of his junior season with a back injury. His freshman and sophomore years? He was still waiting to grow past 5-foot-5.

So he started watching the movies and reading the books on all things involving the elite of the elite when it comes to military service. It drew him in.

"I’ve always admired the people that serve our country and how they defend us and give us all this freedom to do whatever we want," Duran said. "I wasn’t getting highly recruited out of high school. I wasn’t the best. I was thinking a path that I wanted to take and I didn’t think there was a better honor than to defend this country and give people the freedom they deserve.

"I was getting ready to go to the recruiter and talk to them, but then I started to get looked at for college for baseball and I started to realize this might be a thing so maybe I should pursue it a little bit. If it wasn’t going to work out than I just would have gone to the recruiter and talked to them."

The mentality of the SEALs just fit him as was evident when Duran was hit in the face with a fastball while playing for Long Beach State. Despite two broken bones in the then-second baseman's face, he was back playing without any kind of mask or extra protection just a week later.

A seventh-round pick, Duran has proven his drive to always finish what he starts. It's a mindset he was fully prepared to take into the life he almost lived with the SEALs.

"I don’t want to quit so if I’m going to get in there …l wasn’t going to ring the bell," said Duran, referencing the bell used during Navy SEAL training which is only rung by those participants who choose to quit the program. "I would have gone through the pain and try to make it."

Baseball hasn't worked out too badly for Duran, who finished this season having played 82 games with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, stealing 28 bases. The run in Maine came after 50 games with Single-A Salem where he hit .387.

"When I first got (to Portland) I was like, ‘Do I actually belong here? Am I supposed to be here?'" Duran said. "I think it was just self-doubt that held me back. Once I started to believe in myself again I just did what I needed to do and went back out and had fun."