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May 6, 2019 at 6:30 PM

April Players of the Month: Jarren Duran and Bryan Mata

It's a Salem sweep on the Players of the Month awards, with Jarren Duran (pictured, left) and Bryan Mata winning Player of the Month and Pitcher of the Month, respectively. Duran winning should come as no surprise to those who followed the system closely, as his offensive explosion has catapulted him into the top 10 on the SoxProspects.com rankings. Playing exclusively in center field, Duran hit .404/.462/.553 over 94 at-bats, accumulating five doubles, three triples, and a home run. His plus-plus speed and contact ability has put immense pressure on every defense he has faced, and he even added on 11 steals for good measure.

A seventh-round pick in 2018 out of Cal State Long Beach, the 22-year-old Duran is already looking like a steal at that draft slot. Since debuting last June his average sits at .364 and he has stolen 35 bases in 94 games. Salem's home stadium notoriously suppresses home runs, and the one Duran did hit this year came on the road, so it will take some time to see what his true power potential is. But if he keeps hitting in the mid-.300's with elite speed, he will be in the upper minors before the season is over. 

Mata just celebrated his 20th birthday last Friday, and he is still the youngest player in the Carolina League despite repeating the level. After struggling with his control last year, Mata has made great strides in that regard this season, as his overall level of performance has taken a step forward. In 25 2/3 innings in April, Mata allowed only four earned runs (1.40 ERA) and limited opponents to a .188 batting average. More importantly he has walked only seven while striking out 26, though he has also hit six batters. Because he has already spent a year in Salem the Red Sox may choose to be aggressive when promoting Mata, and if he keeps pitching like this he will force the issue. 

Photo Credit: Jarren Duran by Kelly O'Connor