Duran belts three homers on birthday

Bakersfield outfielder mashes trio of roundtrippers in finale

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | September 2, 2013 5:36 PM

When Duran Duran penned the lyrics to their early 1990s hit "Come Undone," they probably weren't considering future Minor League baseball players who might share a surname.

But the last line of the first stanza -- "Happy birthday to you was created for you" -- nearly fits Juan Duran's standout performance on his 22nd birthday. Exchange the "for" with a "by," and the lyrics couldn't seem more tailor-made.

The Reds outfield prospect celebrated his big day with the first three-homer game of his career Monday, belting a trio of solo homers as Class A Advanced Bakersfield closed out the regular season with a 6-4 loss to Visalia.

The three-blast outburst put an exclamatory cap on Duran's season. He finished with six long balls in his final five games while netting his first 20-homer season. Seven of those shots have come against Visalia.

Duran's previous best was 16, belted with Class A Dayton in 2011. The outfielder played 106 games with Bakersfield in 2012, collecting 12 homers while posting a .656 OPS.

The 2013 season had brought similar results for Duran, who entered hitting .245 with a .740 OPS. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native was hitting .175 with four homers in 22 August games prior to his recent five-game breakout.

Duran said the recent barrage came after the 6-foot-7 slugger put in some extra work with hitting coach Ray Martinez.

"I made a little adjustment with Ray Martinez to slow down my swing," Duran said through teammate and translator Yovan Gonzalez. "I know I have power. I just made that adjustment and hit the ball really good today."

Duran's first solo blast came in the first inning to put Bakersfield ahead, 2-0.

The 22-year-old, signed by the Reds in 2008, then led off the fifth with his second shot, which pulled the Blaze within 6-3. He closed Bakersfield within 6-4 with a third solo blast, this one in the top of the seventh.

"I'm really happy on the last day here to finish strong," he said. "I felt really good this season, especially once I slowed things down a little, was able to see the ball well.

"I've been working hard with Ray Martinez and I finished strong. I liked the way I played this year, the hustle. I'm confident and happy to finish with 20 home runs."

For Visalia, Ronnie Freeman and Raul Navarro each had two hits, including a double, with two RBIs from the bottom two slots in the batting order. Tom Belza was 2-for-4 with a double and a run, while Ryan Stoval had two hits, two runs and an RBI as the Rawhide finished the season having clinched a Wild Card spot in the California League playoffs.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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