Even after a mediocre weekend in Kansas City where the Red Sox followed a three-game losing streak losing two of three to a shocked Royals club, they remain in first place. The Rays are going through a rough patch right now, and that has seen Boston climb back to the top of the division, leading by a half-game as they prepare to face Tampa for a three-game streak starting Tuesday. . Given where the team is at the moment, and particularly where the offense has generally been this season as one of the best groups in the game, it is not unreasonable to think that the team can, and can. -be should, continue as she did. . It got them there.
It would be a mistake, however. Baseball season is a long one with a lot of ups and downs, and the job of the front office, and the coaching staff to some extent, is to make sure that they are constantly improving and releasing the best version of. the team as it is. possible at any time. This is especially true in a race like the one we see in the division with not only the Rays, but the suddenly hot Yankees and talented Blue Jays looking to make a run. Add in the generic American League competitors, and there just isn’t much room for error, and the importance of this constant search for improvement is even greater. And with that in mind, I think we’ve officially reached the point where it’s time to bring Jarren Duran up into the majors.
Duran has, as everyone is probably aware, seen his stock increase exponentially since the alternative site last summer, where he began to show new power. He just kept rolling with that helium, and was even recently named one of Baseball America’s Top 30 Prospects in All of Baseball. These aren’t just good reports on the action of the alternative site and stuff like that either, as it also posts numbers in Worcester against the Triple-A pitchers. With 145 home plate appearances, he hits .286 / .379 .627 with 12 home runs, a pace of 50 home runs for 600 home plate appearances. This also doesn’t include his strong run for Team USA in Olympic qualifying or his performance this winter in the Caribbean Series.
Now, it goes without saying that Triple-A numbers will not automatically transfer to the majors. We see players all the time posting numbers in minors who are not considered major league players, let alone potential stars. And there are valid reasons to be concerned about Duran coming to the majors right now.
The first one you’ll hear often is about his defense, as his outfield instincts still thrive after spending his college days grazing on second base. It’s not nothing, but everything indicates that he is improving and doing well, even if it is not great, out there now. Additionally, the Red Sox have enough options down the middle between Alex Verdugo and Kiké Hernández that they can get Duran his time in left field which makes the adjustment a lot easier. We saw the Red Sox do the same with Jacoby Ellsbury in his early days, and it seemed like a good approach for everyone involved.
The other problem for Duran comes at home with his strikeouts. As he developed more potency over the past 18 months or so, he also started to breathe a lot more. Right now he hits 24% of the time in triple A, and while that rate is far from terrible in the current age, especially with his potency, you should probably expect that to increase. his first taste against the major league pitchers. But again, the power is there. We know hitters in today’s game can do well while striking out, and if that increased by a few percentage points, it wouldn’t necessarily hurt Duran’s play, or his confidence. Boston currently has five players on the active roster with a strikeout rate of over 24 percent, so it’s hard for me to believe that it’s a big deal for Duran when someone like Bobby Dalbec keeps going. have some play time. (And, to be fair, he makes Alex Cora look smart for that after last weekend.)
And then there’s the duty time component to that, but that doesn’t really come into play at this point, unless you plan to hold it back for up to a few weeks in the 2022 season. is how you think we are on such different wavelengths, this conversation is probably not worth having.
For me, the problems Duran would solve in Boston outweigh the potential drawbacks to his upbringing. For example, maybe Duran would be able to provide a bit of oomph in a sorely lacking top spot this year. It would be aggressive to put it there right away and that’s probably not how I would approach it – putting Alex Verdugo there would obviously be the easiest solution, but it’s clear they don’t want it. do for some reason – but Cora was aggressive in putting the guys in that top spot right after being called out. It’s different for guys like Michael Chavis and Danny Santana who have major league experience, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Cora did the same with Duran.
And even if he doesn’t make it to the start, he could still help by making an impact in the lower third of the roster, which was also a problem. The woes of first place are deservedly more despised, but inconsistencies at the bottom of the roster could also be addressed. Duran might just be the spark that part of the lineup needs.
And maybe the biggest thing he would add to the roster, beyond pure talent and potential spark for the whole team, is that he’s a left-handed batsman. The Red Sox have found themselves with a very right-handed supporting cast this season, even switch hitters like Marwin Gonzalez and Santana even having splits or being much better hitting from the right side. They didn’t really have that left-handed option, and Duran would be able to provide that and standardize the list a bit more. (By the way, Franchy Cordero would also help here and if they didn’t call Duran I wouldn’t mind calling Cordero as a consolation prize.)
There is a good question to ask about timing because exactly when and where you call your best prospects is an important part of the calculation. In the past, the Red Sox often liked to make that call while traveling the West Coast, and they have one coming up. This week the Red Sox are on the East Coast to play huge games against the Rays and Yankees. It’s reasonable to worry about the kind of pressure a recruit might exert. The opposite to that would be, first, that Duran never showed any indication that he would not thrive under this pressure. And second, the Rays call baseball’s top prospect to Wander Franco on Tuesday. They aren’t equal players, to be clear – Franco has been baseball’s best prospect for years now – but it shows that the right organizations will step up and not worry about it.
To me, it just makes too much sense not to do it now. I know there are risks, and there is certainly no guarantee that Duran will appear and thrive, providing the spark they seek outside of the core of programming. But right now the Red Sox are in a tight race where every win counts, especially in these divisional clashes. Duran may not be 100% ready, but he doesn’t need to be. He just needs to be part of the best 26-man mix on the roster, and you’ll have a hard time convincing me that he’s no better part of that mix than Santana, or Matt Andriese, or Yacksel Ríos. We’ve waited long enough and Duran has proven himself. Bring him up to Boston.