My first ever conversation with Jarren Duran took place prior to spring training when the Red Sox held their annual rookie development camp. Things started off clumsily. The speedy outfield prospect has a certain intensity about him, and his responses to my initial inquiries came couched with edgy caution.
Duran has a 50% ground-ball rate since turning pro, and when I noted that worm-killing isn’t exactly de rigueur in today’s game, his reply was a terse, “Yeah, but I can’t beat out a fly ball. That would be a waste of my speed, so why not use the tool that I have?”
Fair enough. Duran has plus-plus wheels — he swiped 46 bags last season — and he profiles as a table-setter as opposed to a bopper. Even so, is a willingness to stay on the ground really in his best interest?
“I’m willing to accept any ball that will give me a hit,” Duran proclaimed. “Ground balls. Line drives. Even fly balls. I’m just trying to make hard contact.”
Again, fair enough. But it’s not as though the 23-year-old Long Beach State product is wholly without pop. The 2018 seventh-round pick did leave the yard five times between high-A Salem and Double-A Portland, and he’s…