Duran just about perfect in Twins' debut

Righty allows just a walk over seven in first start for Kernels

Jhoan Duran had allowed seven runs on 15 hits in his past two starts prior to the trade. (Rich Guill/Quad Cities River Bandits)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / MiLB.com | July 30, 2018 11:43 PM

As far as organization debuts go, you'd have a difficult time topping Jhoan Duran.

The right-hander -- acquired three days ago from the D-backs along with Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel for Eduardo Escobar -- pitched seven hitless innings Monday in his Twins debut to lead Class A Cedar Rapids to an 8-0 blanking of Quad Cities at Modern Woodmen Park.

David Hensley broke up the no-hitter, singling with two outs in the ninth inning against reliever Jared Finkel, the only hit for the River Bandits.

Video: Cedar Rapids' Duran fans eighth batter of night

Duran (6-4) hadn't pitched since July 22 for Kane County and was coming off two of his poorer starts of the season, allowing seven earned runs on 15 hits over seven innings.

Justin Willard, one of Cedar Rapids' two pitching coaches, said he had seen Duran with the Cougars.

"We knew he had some velocity, but when we saw him, his velocity dropped off relatively quick," Willard said. "[But] he had a split fastball tonight, 91-92 [mph] that was dropping off the table. Hitters didn't have a shot. He was using that more, throwing it about 60 percent clip.

"He called it in the bullpen a two-seamer or sinker, but watching him throw it, his fingers are so big, he was pulling it down, 91-92 with some late life."

Gameday box score

Minnesota's 22nd-ranked prospect retired the first 12 hitters, striking out four, before walking Chandler Taylor to start the fifth. Taylor was the only Bandits player to reach base against Duran, who retired the final nine he faced, including four on strikes.

"He's got a pretty high ceiling, got some tools, some weapons is probably a better word," Willard said. "He's got some stuff he can work on that can be pretty good."

Duran signed with the D-backs for just $65,000 in December 2014 and Arizona took it slow with the projectable righty. He didn't get to the United States until 2016 and didn't reach full-season ball until June 2017.

Video: Quad Cities' Hensley breaks up no-hitter in ninth

But the Twins coveted the 20-year-old for his mid-90s fastball and his ability to spin a curveball. Scouts say his fastball has touched as high as 98 mph and features heavy sink, which leads to a lot of ground-ball outs. His changeup, a work in progress, flashes above-average at times.

But Duran has walked 3.9 batters per nine innings, and entering Monday he had issued free passes to 19 in the past 43 1/3 innings.

MiLB include

In his Minnesota debut, he was fairly efficient, utilizing 92 pitches -- 59 strikes -- over seven innings.

Cedar Rapids, which got a combined no-hitter from Edwar Colina and Jovani Moran on May 1 vs. South Bend, was looking for its first road no-hitter since Ramon Ortiz's gem on Aug. 7, 1997 at Quad City.

The Kernels gave their new teammate plenty of support. Twins No. 28 prospect Jose Miranda fell a triple short of the cycle, homering and driving in five runs, and 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers homered, doubled three times and drove in three runs to spearhead the 11-hit attack. Miranda's 70 RBIs tie him for the Midwest League lead with Ryan Costello, his new teammate after a trade from the Mariners on Monday.

Cesar Rosado (1-2) was tagged for five runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings for Quad Cities.

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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