Duran flaunts power, speed in 3-hit game

October 26th, 2021

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The combination of power and speed is one of baseball’s most enticing skill sets. Plenty of players can either hit for power or race around the bases, but the ability to excel at both is far less common.

Only 16 players totaled both 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in the Minor Leagues this season and although fell just short of that mark, he’s viewed as someone with 20-20 potential at the highest level and his 3-for-5 performance in the Arizona Fall League on Monday illustrated that.

“It was a good game offensively because we fought and fought and put in a battle and came up victorious,” the Rangers’ No. 7 prospect said after Surprise’s 16-15 win over Mesa.

Duran, who hit 19 homers and stole 19 bases over 105 games during the regular season, reached base four times, drove in two runs and fell a homer shy of the cycle in the slugfest.

The power was evident as Duran drove the ball and produced plus exit velocities in each of his first three at-bats, all of which went to left field. In the first inning, his single had an exit velocity of 98 mph. In the second, he hit a ball 113 mph for a double, and in the fourth, his triple left the bat at 102 mph.

“My approach is to stay on time on the fastball,” Duran said. “See the ball and hit the ball.”

The speed was seen on the triple as the 22-year-old raced around the bases and reached third before the ball got back to the infield.

Acquired from the Yankees in late July as part of the Joey Gallo trade, Duran has gotten off to one of the best starts in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .478 (11-for-23) with four doubles, three triples, a homer, eight RBIs and a 1.543 OPS through six games.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for me,” Duran said. “It’s the same baseball. I’m always going to play hard and keep working.”

This on the heels of a strong 2021 campaign during which he posted a slash line of .267/.342/.486 while setting career highs with 19 homers and 79 RBIs between High-A Hudson Valley and Hickory.

Learning a new organization is a challenge in itself, but Duran is simultaneously trying to pick up a new position. After spending the bulk of the season in the middle infield, Duran manned the hot corner Monday, a position he’s played just three times over the first 239 games of his professional career.

However, Duran said he feels comfortable at third and is embracing the challenge.

“I’m here to play hard -- that’s my mentality -- and have fun,” Duran said.

Duran was just one of five Surprise players with multiple hits and the Yankees' Andres Chaparro (4-for-4) and the Reds' No. 11 prospect Michael Siani (4-for-5) led the way from the bottom of the order with four hits apiece. Chaparro and Seuly Matias (Royals) both went deep in the sixth, with Matias’ blast traveling a massive 462 feet out to center.

As for Mesa, JJ Bleday, who finished 3-for-4 and is hitting .367, hit his first AFL homer -- a no-doubt, two-run blast in the third. The homer left the bat of the fifth-ranked Marlins prospect at 106 mph and traveled 395 feet over the right-field wall.