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Champ or Chump: Jarren Duran

Jarren Duran - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Prospects News

The MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching, and contenders are incentivized to get a look at top prospects to see if they have internal solutions for their problems or will have to look outside of their organization for help. The Boston Red Sox have summoned Jarren Duran from Triple-A to see if he could give the club a boost.

Duran wasn't seen as a huge prospect when he was drafted, being selected in the seventh round back in 2018. That said, the 24-year-old has opened eyes throughout his professional career and was the third-best prospect in Boston's system at the time of his call-up per MLB.com. His signature tool is his legs, a trait that generally plays well in fantasy as well.

Duran also flashed power for the first time in his career this season at Triple-A, but the changes he made to access it may not be worthwhile from a fantasy perspective. Let's take a look at all of the publicly available information and see if we can figure out what to make of this kid's immediate prospects.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:


One Standout Tool

Duran's scouting grades do a pretty good job of encapsulating who he is as a player, or at least who he has been on the farm. Take a look at his FanGraphs scouting report:

Seventy speed on the 20-80 scouting scale is enough to make fantasy managers salivate, but literally everything else is below average. His hit tool is projected to be a plus in the future, but that won't help managers in redraft formats. His raw power is below average, and his game power is lower than that with minimal improvement expected. The converted second baseman also struggles with his reads in the outfield, so his glove won't keep him in the lineup. His ETA is also given as next year, indicating that the experts behind this report don't see Duran as big-league ready just yet.

Experts can have different opinions, of course, so let's see what his MLB.com scouting report says:

This one's a little bit more optimistic than the previous one, but the wheels are still the only thing to see here. Average fielding and a slightly above-average hit tool are nice, but nothing is elite outside of the speed. Pure jackrabbits have burned many a fantasy manager in the past, and this author can see Duran becoming the next Mallex Smith or Billy Hamilton.


Development on the Farm

Duran played his first professional game in 2018 and hit well at the lower levels of the minors, riding BABIPs above .400 to decent triple-slash lines. He spent the second half of 2019 at Double-A Portland, hitting .250/.309/.325 with one homer and 28 steals in 352 PAs. The steals were exactly what fantasy managers wanted, but his 6.5 BB% and 23.9 K% did not suggest the approach necessary for a guy like this to succeed at the big league level. His 26.6 FB% was low enough to help validate his .335 BABIP, but his 1.6% HR/FB reinforced the scouting consensus that there's very little power here.

Duran didn't play at all in 2020 considering that the pandemic wiped out the entire MiLB schedule, but the Red Sox were reportedly pleased with the "offensive and defensive gains" he made at the alternate training site. He slashed .400/.500/.640 at the Caribbean Series, a high-profile championship event that involves reinforced versions of the clubs that win Latin American winter leagues. It's a small sample with uneven competition and probably shouldn't be used to draw any conclusions.

Duran was a completely different hitter for Triple-A Worcester this season, slashing .270/.365/.561 with 15 homers and 12 steals over 219 PAs. His BB% nearly doubled to 11 while his K% held steady at 23.7, suggesting plate discipline progress. He increased his FB% to 38.5 and his HR/FB to 28.8%, making a mockery of scouting reports that said he had no power. Some team officials reportedly started seeing him as a 20-HR threat in the Show after the breakout.

Twenty long balls aren't that many in our game though, and there were some downsides. The extra fly balls took a bite out of his BABIP, as we want our speeders to do way better than the .293 mark Duran put up for Worcester. He also added a significant amount of swing-and-miss to his game, going from an 11.7 SwStr% at Double-A to 14.8% at Triple-A. That's pretty high for a guy who's going to maybe hit 20 homers and could spell trouble against MLB pitching. It's also impossible to tell if the stadium might've helped Duran considering that Polar Park just opened this year.

Duran was an adept base thief on the farm, stealing 24 bags with a 71% success rate in 2018, 46 with a 78% success rate in 2019, and 12 with an 80% success rate this season. Hitting more flies and striking out more frequently seems to go against Duran's signature skill and may not be the best sign.


Role with the Team

Duran hit sixth in his first start and seventh the day afterward, a lineup role that offers minimal fantasy value even in Boston's high-octane offense. He hasn't attempted a steal yet, so we don't know if he's starting with a green light. The Red Sox intend to contend this year, and they won't hesitate to demote Duran or move him into a bench role if he gets off to a slow start.

He is currently rostered in 51% of Yahoo! formats, and there are worse ways to burn roster space if you have any available. You might get lucky! That said, this author is not optimistic that Duran will make an immediate impact. His recent growth is contrary to why we're interested in him in fantasy. Boston is a tough market, and the team probably won't let him work through any issues. He's a Chump if you would need to sacrifice a proven commodity or a ton of FAAB to acquire him.

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