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SoxProspects News

March 2, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Fort Report: Duran and Mata impress in first full week of Spring

Here are Monday's minor league notes:

  • With the first full week of spring training behind us, SoxProspects coverage is in full swing. On the SoxProspects twitter account (@SoxProspects) you can find daily reports on prospects playing in major league games, as well as follow the #SP60 breakdown of the systems top 60 prospects (updated daily). Stay tuned as the SoxProspects scouting team is set to arrive in Fort Myers on March 19th to bring in-person reports of minor league camp. 
  • One of the stand out prospect performers thus far in Red Sox spring training has been Jarren Duran who has turned heads with his red hot start to spring. The speedy outfielder has appeared in five games thus far in which he's notched five hits in twelve plate appearances, including a home run and a triple. Bryan Mata has also impressed in his two spring appearances, fanning two across three scoreless innings.
  • It comes as no surprise that the Mookie Betts trade has dominated the coverage of Red Sox spring training. While Alex Verdugo headlined the return for the former-MVP, Jeter Downs and Connor Wong have made 19 plate appearances for the Red Sox thus far. In her Red Sox mailbag, Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic explained that both youngsters are unlikely to make the majors out of camp, and will need a little more development before providing any return on investment. 
  • In a separate piece McCaffrey detailed Downs' journey from heavily recruited high school standout to Reds prospect. In an interview with the Dodgers' Mark Kertenien McCaffrey explains just how much Los Angeles coveted Downs (willing to eat Homer Bailey's salary to acquire him). Kertenien went on to praise Downs' work ethic which combined with his intelligence puts the Miami native in prime position to make the most of his incredible talent. 
  • Writing for MassLive.com Christopher Smith spoke with Connor Wong about how he approaches his game. Wong told him that he strives to be elite at every phase of the game, and he works to make the most of his above average arm and power. The also cited his step-father (former pitcher Matt Maysey) as a positive influence and someone who he can go to for advice regarding the more mental aspects of the game. 
  • The arrival of Downs and Wong buoyed a farm system that, while improving, has received much criticism for its lack of strength and depth over the previous years. This further improvement is reflected in MLB Pipeline's Top 30 rankings of the Red Sox system which rates Downs as the Red Sox top prospect and has Wong come in at 16th as the Sox top-rated catcher. 
  • Elsewhere on MLB.com Jim Callis has been publishing his annual predictions and rankings for the upcoming minor league season, with Triston Casas and Jay Groome representing the Red Sox. Casas was predicted to lead all of High A in home runs and Groome was listed as possessing the best secondary pitch in the Red Sox with his devastating curveball. 
  • On The Athletic, Keith Law released his rankings of the Red Sox system and had Jeter Downs atop his list of twenty. One surprise inclusion on Law's list was reliever Andrew Politi, who Law had ranked at 15. Law is high on Politi's current arsenal and pitchability, and believes that Politi has starter potential if he develops a third pitch.
  • As mentioned above Jarren Duran has been garnering lots of attention for his break out spring performance. Ian Browne of MLB.com wrote a feature on Duran emphasizing his speed and defensive potential, which could help turn him into a star. In the interview Duran reveals that he has been trying to emulate the many gifted defenders in Sox camp such as Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Kevin Pillar
  • On his daily notes column David Laurila of Fangraphs featured Duran in a piece that analyzed Duran's old-school tool set and approach. Laurila questioned Duran's reliance on ground balls in the launch angle era, and the outfielder argued that ground balls give him the best chance to utilize his speed. 
  • Christopher Smith of MassLive.com spoke about Duran with Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, who refuted the notion that Duran had to hit for power to be an every day regular. Roenicke believes that Duran's speed will allow him to record many extra-base hits which combined with his potentially elite defense give Duran an excellent chance to make it as a big league starter. 
  • While Duran's professional career thus far has largely been a success story, he went through a rough patch upon his promotion to Portland. Chad Jennings spoke about this rough patch with Duran for The Athletic, and he credited Bobby Dalbec's wisdom for helping him work through his rut. 
  • Red Sox minor leaguers called up from the back fields to appear in major league games this week: Yoan Aybar, Roldani Baldwin, Eduard Bazardo, Pedro Castellanos, CJ Chatham, Keith Curcio, Enmanuel de Jesus, Tyler Dearden, Jarren Duran, Chad de la Guerra, Jeter Downs, Tyler Esplin, Durbin Feltman, Ryan Fitzgerald, Rio Gomez, Tanner Houck, Matt Kent, Nick Lovullo, Bryan Mata, Tate Matheny, Daniel McGrath, Brett Netzer, Tanner Nishioka, Josh Ockimey, Michael Osinski, Denyi Reyes, Cole Sturgeon, Josh Tobias, Grant Williams, Marcus Wilson, Jantzen Witte, Connor Wong.
Photo credit: Jarren Duran by Kelly O'Connor