Duran callup, rivalry matchup postponed

Prospect set to make debut at Yankee Stadium; Thurs. game called off due to COVID concerns

July 15th, 2021

NEW YORK -- , the prized prospect who was set to make his debut for the Red Sox on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium with his family and friends on hand from the West Coast, will have to wait at least one more day.

More than two hours before Thursday’s scheduled first pitch, MLB issued the following statement:

“Following positive COVID-19 tests within the New York Yankees organization, tonight’s game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium has been postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing. Major League Baseball will continue to provide scheduling updates as available.”

After anticipating his callup to the Red Sox for some time, a little more waiting wasn’t going to faze Duran.

“I don’t think words can put into perspective how excited I am to be a Red Sox today,” Duran said. “The first person I called was obviously my dad. He pushed me since I was little and he got me into baseball, and it only felt right to call him first.”

If Thursday’s game had been played, Boston’s No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, would have batted seventh and gotten the start in center. Perhaps the extra day will give Duran a bit more time to digest what has transpired for him over the last couple of days.

“Everybody keeps telling me, ‘You seem a little bit too calm for being called up.’ I still feel like it hasn’t hit me yet,” said Duran. “Probably not until I see the Yankees across the way from us.”

At least at the outset, look for the left-handed-hitting Duran to make most of his starts against righties.

“As you guys know, he’s a very dynamic left-handed hitter. We’ll protect him,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Although his numbers in the Minor Leagues this year have been great against lefties, there’s lefties and there’s tough lefties. We’ll check the lineup for matchups. We’ll make sure we take care of him with everything. With righties, he’s a full go.”

While Duran eventually projects into the ideal leadoff man for the Sox with his exciting blend of speed and power, Kiké Hernández will continue to bat first for Boston for the foreseeable future.

“He’s done an amazing job the last month out of the leadoff spot. So we’ll keep it like that,” said Cora. “I think it gives us balance, another lefty further down in the lineup is going to help us out. [Duran is] going to run the bases. I think it will be good for the people hitting in front of him. He can use the whole field when he takes off. We’ll see how it goes.”

Look for Hernández, who has been Boston’s primary center fielder up to this point in the season, to remain there against most lefties while shifting to second base against righties.

Christian Arroyo will play second against most lefties, and he started working out at first base on Thursday afternoon to increase his chances of being in the lineup.

“We’ll try to get him comfortable there,” said Cora. “Actually I talked to him today and said, ‘Let me know when you’re comfortable,’ and he said ‘I’m comfortable right now.’ He’ll play second, he can play short, he can play third, first, we can DH him. There’s different ways.

“We’ll keep getting him at-bats. He’ll play against every lefty we face, we know that. But I do believe facing righties is something that helps him out, and we’ll find ways to get him in there against righties.”

In Duran, the Red Sox get a player who has a slash line of .270/.365/.561 with 15 homers, 32 RBIs and 15 stolen bases while compiling 189 at-bats at Triple-A.

Duran will join Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts as Red Sox prospects to debut at Yankee Stadium.

“I was joking with [director of player development Brian Abraham] when I was with him, I was like, 'You couldn't have started me off somewhere a little easier? You've got to throw me in Yankee Stadium?' But I'm beyond blessed to be here right now, and I can't wait to play and see how it goes,” Duran said.

Boston drafted Duran out of Long Beach State as a second baseman in the seventh round of the 2018 Draft.

“I don't think it matters where you're drafted,” Duran said. “If you work your butt off, you can always exceed expectations. Just being drafted at all was a blessing. I was just honored to be able to work hard to get to where I'm at.”

In the three years since Duran signed with the Red Sox, he's added muscle and improved his hitting mechanics while converting to center field.

“Totally different player [now],” said Duran. “I just think that back then I was a simple line-drive hitter. I think now, obviously like you guys have seen, I've developed a little bit of power so I guess that's just added to my game a little bit.”

For the first chapter in what Duran hopes will be a long career, he will have a short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium to take aim at.