Duran generating more hype after latest HR

May 14th, 2021

didn’t just hit another home run for the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox on Thursday. No, this was more like a majestic missile that has Boston fans salivating even more than they were already about Duran’s pending arrival to the Major Leagues.

Unlike the home run, on which Duran turned on a high and inside, 95-mph fastball and hammered at an exit velocity of 112 mph and a projected distance of 440 feet, the 24-year-old outfielder’s promotion to Boston will not be fast tracked.

It won’t be slow-played either.

The Red Sox just want to make sure the development of the club's No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline is complete before he plays at the highest level.

“He’s doing a good job down there,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “There’s a few things that he keeps improving on. Catching up with fastballs is very important, catching up with fastballs up in the zone is very important. Being disciplined with breaking balls down in the zone is important.

“I know a lot of people are excited about what he’s doing. We are, too, but obviously there’s an advantage of him getting at-bats and playing every day [at Triple-A] and going out there and playing defense. So far, he’s been great. We’re very happy with the progress.”

As the homer at brand new Polar Park in Worcester, Mass., soared off of Duran’s bat, he stood and admired it for a second. It was hard not to. Then he trotted around the bases, and strobe lights went off.

Yes, he is in the spotlight as the most talked about prospect for a prominent team. But Duran recalls that being under the radar was what got him to where he is now.

“I kind of liked being a non-prospect, you know, because people always expect a lot out of you [as a prospect],” Duran said. “But not being a prospect to start, you work your butt off as much as you can, then things come your way with hard work. I just worked hard, did the right things and played hard.”

While Duran has made major strides being able to turn on inner-half fastballs like he did on Thursday, it is a work in progress.

“It still feels like I'm working. Some days I feel good on the inside [pitches], some days I don't feel good, so it's a daily battle,” Duran said. “It’s baseball, so I’m working on my swing every day ... but it does feel better. Just working with [Double-A Portland hitting coach] Lance Zawadzki and [private hitting coach] Doug Latta and taking BP, I realized I could hit inside pitches more true and kind of showed that. Since that, it’s cleared up.”

Always known for his blazing speed as he came through the ranks, Duran is now earning a reputation for his power. He crushed two homers in the home opener for the WooSox on Tuesday.

“I remember watching one of the games in the offseason and [my partner] Angelica’s dad is watching the game with me and he saw the swing, he’s like, ‘Well, if he runs, he should be bunting.’ I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no. We don’t want him to be bunting right now.’ So, he’s that strong,” said Cora. “He’s a big kid. It just happens that he’s very fast.”

Dalbec can relate to Ohtani

With the Angels at Fenway Park this weekend, Boston fans get their first look of the season at Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ two-way sensation. There aren’t many people who can relate to Ohtani’s ability to hit and pitch in the Major Leagues, but Red Sox rookie first baseman understands what it must be like.

While playing his college ball for Arizona, Dalbec was a stud pitcher and hitter and Major League scouts kept their options open leading up to the Draft. In fact, Cora was doing the College World Series for ESPN when Dalbec was a junior and thought he would wind up as a pitcher.

“For me at least, if I wasn’t hitting well that night I could go back out there and help the team win by pitching,” said Dalbec. “So it kind of gives you more chances in the game to do something good for the team, which is fun but it’s a lot to handle. I think he’s hitting middle of the lineup and trying to go six, seven innings every [start] in the Major Leagues and that’s pretty crazy honestly.”

Does Dalbec miss pitching?

“I miss the competitive aspect of pitching but not necessarily everything that comes along with it, I would say,” said Dalbec.