Baseball is known as a game of failure, one in which even the best hitters produce an out nearly 70 percent of the time. Jarren Duran's challenge of that narrative soon could earn him a promotion.The 10th-ranked Red Sox prospect rattled off four more hits, boosting his Minor League-leading average to
Baseball is known as a game of failure, one in which even the best hitters produce an out nearly 70 percent of the time. Jarren Duran's challenge of that narrative soon could earn him a promotion.
The 10th-ranked Red Sox prospect rattled off four more hits, boosting his Minor League-leading average to .422 and helping Class A Advanced Salem to an 8-6 win over Winston-Salem on Friday night at Haley Toyota Field. Duran extended his hitting streak to 16 games and has recorded at least three hits in back-to-back contests for the second time this season.
"This hasn't just happened, where he is hot and stays there," Salem hitting coach Lance Zawadzki said. "He has made adjustments during this time allowing for this to continue. This hasn't just been a time of success for him but also growth as a hitter."
Duran does not skip optional hitting workouts, Zawadzki said. The coach praised his leadoff hitter's mind-set at the plate, calling every at-bat a "personal battle" between Duran and whoever is on the mound. And the 22-year-old has found more ways to win that battle as the season's gone on. Zawadzki has seen Duran go from making adjustments between games to between at-bats to a pitch-by-pitch basis.
The evidence? Duran reached base at a .482 clip in April. That figure has risen to .505 this month. Just four times in 43 games has he failed to get aboard.
The Red Sox took Duran in the seventh round of last year's Draft, and after outperforming that value by posting a .357 average and a .910 OPS between the New York-Penn and South Atlantic leagues during his pro debut, the Long Beach State product has managed to blow away those numbers in first full season. He has a .422 average in 173 at-bats and, despite not being touted for his slugging potential, tops the Carolina League with a 1.048 OPS.
Soon enough, Duran -- who has transitioned from second base to the outfield -- will need to be challenged with more experienced pitching in the Eastern League. It's worth noting that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was in attendance Friday night.
"I think anytime you're hitting .420-plus for almost two months, it raises some eyebrows," Zawadzki said. "But they do a great job here knowing the right time when a guy's ready to make a jump. The biggest jump in the Minors game speed is to Double-A. So, he continues to work on what he needs to here and I'm sure it's only a matter of time when you're doing what he's done up to this point."
Gameday box score
For now, the reigning Carolina League Player of the Week will contend for that award every seven days. He continued to build his case early Friday, knocking the first pitch from 20th-ranked White Sox prospectKonnor Pilkington into center field. He singled again in the second inning, this time to right. Duran walked on five pitches in the fourth, knocked another first-pitch single in the seventh and capped his night by poking a fourth hit through the left side in the eighth.
Duran's production filtered through the lineup as Salem broke out for eight runs on 12 hits. Marcus Wilson, the 22nd-ranked Red Sox prospect, went 3-for-3 with a first-inning homer that plated Dylan Hardy and Ryan Fitzgerald. He also walked.
Wilson began the season in the D-backs organization but was traded in the deal that shipped Blake Swihart to Arizona on April 19. The 22-year-old debuted with Double-A Portland but was assigned to Salem after hitting .161 in 16 Eastern League games. When he arrived last week, Zawadzki immediately noticed changes to Wilson's load that could improve the outfielder's judgment in the strike zone.
Wilson was "all-in," and now he's heating up. After going hitless in his first two games with Salem, he has eight hits in his last four games and seven RBIs over his last three. Friday's home run was his first since April 29.
"[The adjustment] has really freed up his swing," Zawadzki said. "There's a different sound off his bat when he gets it."
Reliever Andrew Schwaab (1-0) earned the win, striking out four and walking one over 2 2/3 hitless innings.
Joe Bloss is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.