Scouting Report: Matt Duran

Duran has proven to be a good hitter in spurts

The Yankees selected third baseman Matt Duran in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of New Rochelle High School in New York. He followed up his solid debut season that year with a year of adjustments with the Staten Island Yankees in 2012, but his excellent finish to the season is just a sign of his intriguing long-term potential.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Matt Duran
Position: Third Base
DOB: May 1, 1993
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He hit just .221 with three home runs for the Staten Island Yankees last year, a season which was really a tale of different halves. He struggled to hit just .185 in his first 40 games but then wound up hitting .288 with all three of his home runs in his final 21 games.

"It was a big, big learning experience," Duran said. "It started in my first Spring Training. I went to Extended Spring Training and did really well there, and I thought I was going to have a big year in Staten Island.

"I struggled a little bit with the lights and the normal baseball schedule in Staten Island, but then in August and September I started playing well again. [Now] I just want to start this year the way I finished last year."

He experienced what many first-year pros, especially those coming out of high school, have to go through; playing under the lights, playing games everyday, a jump up in competition especially as one of the youngest players in the league, all of the traveling for the first time, etc.

"It was good to struggle a little bit," he admitted. "I know that's going to benefit me in the long run. I just have to take everything in stride. It was a learning experience and I'll just have to bounce back this year."

The other thing he learned was to not try to do too much, another lesson that's easy to preach but hard to implement. A first-year player simply has to experience it first-hand.

"I definitely was pressing a little bit. In Extended [Spring Training] I did everything that I wanted to do. If I needed to go up the middle I did it so I figured I was just going to take that with me to Staten Island.

"In the first few games I struggled a little bit and I started pressing and pressing. I don't know if I was getting pull conscious -- it just may have been the way it seemed -- but I started adjusting to everything. But when I was going right I started using all fields more and that's how it's supposed to be done."

He learned to pull back the reins some and relax rather than keep pressing, not an easy thing to do for one of the hardest workers in the entire Yankee farm system.

"It kind of goes against my nature because I really work hard," he said. "I don't look at it as a job, I look at it as doing something that I love. When I'm struggling I just want to get out of it so I work harder and harder. I would take that to the game and I'd press [even more].

"Once some little bouncers went my way I started getting more comfortable and I started to relax a little bit more. Relaxing more is something that's hard to do when things aren't going your way but once I started to relax things came to me a bit easier."

He finally made the hitting adjustment after the New York Penn League All Star break. Duran is also pleased with his defensive progress at third and though he readily admits the entire season was a bit of a learning curve, he can't help but believe that he's a better ball player today.

"I'm still 19 and I've pretty much gone through year and half of pro ball. I'm still young and I've had some good experience.

"I'm going to take that with me and I know this year I'm going to be a lot better because for a while there everything that could possibly go wrong did. It was classic Murphy's law."

With all that he has experienced thus far and having gone through many firsts in what was his first taste of minor league baseball, Duran says he's ready to take the next step.

"To be more consistent. I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. You have to ride the highs as long as you can and shorten the lows as much as possible.

"I showed flashes last year of the player I can be but I just want to be more consistent, be that for the long haul and not just for a short amount of time," he concluded.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2012 Staten Island .221 226 12 3 17 24 0 14 57 .267 .314
2011 GCL Yankees .301 83 6 3 17 13 0 9 21 .365 .506


Batting and Power. When he's allowing the game to come to him and takes what the pitchers are giving him, Duran is not only adept at using the entire field but he has a real knack for barreling the baseball. As some hitters tend to do though, he can be susceptible to good breaking pitches outside of the zone when he's in pull-mode. He shows good patience at the plate for a teenager even though walks are not a big priority right now, but he does show the necessary strike zone discipline to potentially be a high walks guy down the road. He has big league average power right now with room to fill out as he gets older.

Base Running and Speed. Simply put, like most corner guys Duran is a non-factor in the running game.

Defense. Lost in his 22 errors last season was the fact that real defensive progress was made. He improved his range laterally, shows good hands on the back-hand play, and he has above average arm strength. His biggest issue -- as it is with most young third baseman -- is making the hard-charging, slow-roller plays, especially on the throws needed to complete those plays. That's something that should get ironed out in time because he's a very solid defensive player in all the other areas.

Projection. Despite still being just 19 years old, Duran has a considerable long-term ceiling. His future power could grade out as above average if he continues to get stronger and his defensive game will certainly play at least as average down the road. How far his game develops will hinge on him becoming the better all-around hitter he has shown he has the ability to be in spurts. If he can avoid the pull-happy tendencies, use the whole field more, and learn to sit on his pitch even more and draw more walks, making him a better overall hitter and just allow his natural power to take over, he has the ceiling of a starting big league third baseman who profiles best as a fifth or sixth hitter in a batting order. He has work to do but the talent is there.

ETA. N/A. Duran could probably benefit from some more seasoning in Staten Island in 2013 but where he starts the season will depend on what the Yankees do with Dante Bichette Jr. If he gets moved up to Tampa, Duran will start in Charleston. Their minor league tracks are likely to go hand-in-hand.

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