When the Twins traded Eduardo Escobar to the D-backs at the Trade Deadline in 2018, they were sure to get Duran as part of the return. At the time, he was a tall and projectable, but raw, right-hander experiencing his first taste of full-season ball. The 2019 season saw him take a big step forward both in terms of stuff and performance, reaching Double-A at age 21 and getting added to the 40-man roster in the offseason.
Duran always had very good power stuff and it all ticked up in 2019. His fastball averaged 97 mph for most of the 2019 season and he often touched triple-digits. He backs that up with an absolutely nasty splitter/sinker hybrid pitch, thrown 88-94 mph, which falls off the table, missing bats and getting ground-ball outs. He worked to improve his curveball and it has better characteristics, with good depth. It’s a hard breaking ball, thrown around 84 mph, and he’s working on commanding it in the strike zone.
It’s not the typical starter profile, but so far there’s no reason whatsoever to consider moving him out of a rotation. The keys for him will be to continue to refine his command -- his walk rate did tick down a bit overall while his strikeout rate went up -- and, given his all-power repertoire, finding ways to keep hitters off balance. If he can do that, he could be a mid-rotation workhorse in the big leagues.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
When deals are made at the Trade Deadline, it can often be years before the trade can be truly evaluated. The D-backs knew they would get immediate help when they got Eduardo Escobar from the Twins in July 2018, but the Twins knew they'd have to wait a while to see how good the key parts of the return, outfielder Gabriel Maciel and Duran, would be. Duran did show glimpses of his enormous upside during his full-season debut in 2018, leaving the Twins very excited to see what he can do in his first full season in the organization.
Duran has an exciting repertoire that points to a future in a big league rotation. He relies heavily on two distinct fastballs, a four-seamer that sits at 94-96 mph and touches 98 mph and a two-seamer that's a cross between a sinker and a splitter, thrown 90-93 miph, that misses a ton of bats and drives his strikeout rate. He can spin a curveball, flashing a plus breaking ball, and it's a point of focus for him in 2019. His changeup still needs work, but it has the chance to be an average pitch eventually. He's continued to refine his delivery and improve his command and control.
There's still more in the tank for the 6-foot-5 Duran and he could make a big leap up prospect lists as he moves up another level in 2019. He could be the next big high ceiling arm in the Twins system after Brusdar Graterol.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
If you were to look up the definition of projectable right-hander, there might be a picture of Duran next to it. The 6-foot-5 Dominican, who signed back in December 2014 for just $65,000, made his United States debut in 2016 and made an incremental step forward a year later. The results haven't caught up to the potential, but there's a lot to like here. The Twins agreed, acquiring his upside in the Eduardo Escobar trade.
Duran has an exciting three-pitch mix he is still in the process of learning how to use consistently. His mid-90s fastball jumps out of his hand and features heavy sink, which leads to a lot of ground-ball outs. The 20-year-old knows how to spin a breaking ball and it has the chance to be an above-average pitch in the future. Even his changeup, which is behind the other two, flashes above-average at times. His command and control remain a work in progress, but the hope is they will come as he grows into his frame and learns to trust his stuff.
It can take time for a young arm with this much upside to click, so patience will be the key. But Duran has the tools and the body to develop into a No. 3-type starter if everything comes together.
With some pitchers, just watching them throw a bullpen can make you sit up and take notice. Duran, who made his United States debut in 2016 after his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League the year prior, is one of those kinds of young arms -- one with a ton of upside.
The ball really jumps out of Duran's hand, delivering a fastball that sits in the mid-90s now. He throws it with a lot of life, with heavy sink down in the zone that generates groundball outs. He can spin a good curveball, albeit not always consistently, though it looks like it could eventually be at least an above-average breaking ball. He has some feel for his changeup, giving him a potentially third Major League-average (or better) offering. He has a clean and smooth delivery that points to a future of throwing strikes.
Duran has plenty of room to add strength to his 6-foot-5 frame, which could lead to even more velocity. Put a star next to his name, as he's a right-hander who could make a leap up prospect rankings in the coming years.