Scouting Yankees Prospect #46: Matt Duran

Duran has some real power potential

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 had a very good professional debut season for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, hitting over .300 and showing some of the power potential scouts liked prior to his selection.

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

"I think [with] my first taste of pro ball I did pretty well," he said. "I ended up hitting .301 and I adjusted pretty well. My hitting coach worked with me everyday and towards the end I did really well.

"In the beginning I didn't do as well as I wanted to or as well as I think I'm capable of doing. I just worked hard and adjusted, and towards the end I kicked it into high gear."

It wasn't as if he struggled right out of the gate, but it was his incredibly strong finish -- hitting .382 over his last ten games, including hitting safely in nine of those contests -- that was really impressive. It wasn't his bat, however, or a lack of confidence that were question marks.

"My biggest strengths are, I'm a great fastball hitter, I can adjust to the offspeed stuff and I can hit the ball to all fields," he told PinstripesPlus.com on draft day. "I've got some pop."

He definitely does have some power, especially for not being a bigger guy. He collected ten extra-base hits in just 23 games, including three home runs, and he caught the collective eye of team officials.

"He's another very good, young hitter," GCL Yankees manager Carlos Mendoza said. "He's going to have the chance to hit, he's got some pop, he has a good swing, he stays inside the ball, but he's going to take some time.

"He's so young and it's a learning process. He's a hard worker though which is good. He was one of the hardest workers on our team. He was huge help to our team and he's got some hit-ability."

Drafted as a third baseman, the same position played as first round pick Dante Bichette Jr., Duran knows that while the bat is clearly present, he does have some work to do defensively going forward.

"We're working a lot on my defense at third, a lot of basic stuff because I haven't played there that much," Duran said. "I was only [in the GCL] for half the year so they were just teaching me basic concepts, lateral movements, etc. I feel comfortable there already."

While honing his defensive game will continue to be a developmental mantra in the coming years, it's his bat that will take him where he wants to go and even though he has had some offensive success, he knows he can't sit still at the plate.

"I just have to keep getting stronger so those deep fly balls turn into home runs," he opined. "I'm just trying to stay on top of the ball a lot more and [improving] some situational stuff, hit more line drives. I'm not really changing my approach right now."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2011 GCL Yankees .301 83 6 3 17 13 0 9 21 .365 .506


Batting and Power. At just 18 years old, Duran already has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball and driving it to all fields. As good as his numbers were, the fact that he struggled against left-handed pitching in his debut season, which isn't uncommon for first-year hitters, skews his overall success. He is a very patient hitter who is willing to look for his pitch and he has shown an ability to make pitchers pay for mistakes. What is truly encouraging is that he doesn't use an upper-cut swing at all nor does he try to hit home runs. He has good power now but with a little more strength and conditioning in the coming years it could develop into a big-time tool.

Base Running and Speed. Duran, despite not being exceptionally big, isn't very quick either on the base paths. Like more corner guys, he is more of a station-to-station runner who might steal a bag here and there.

Defense. His greatest defensive strength is a strong arm which allows him to make any throw necessary. He is already pretty solid with the glove too, showing an ability to make the short-hop plays. He just needs more time and in-game experience to round out his defensive game, but he has the chance to be a solid big league third baseman.

Projection. If Duran were a bit taller he would have the physicality to project as a eventual big league starting third baseman long-term. It's not as if he doesn't have that kind of ceiling already, but, despite good power right now, his smaller size just means he has a bit more to prove going forward. He is somewhat nimble for a corner guy, leading some scouts to believe he has the potential versatility to play in the corner outfield and he has already seen some time at first base, and that does give him reserve role potential already. Should he get bigger and stronger, however, which at 18 years old is certainly not out of the question, he could have significant upside.

ETA. N/A. The presence of Dante Bichette Jr. will most likely halt his immediate progress to the long-season leagues. Expect him to see time in Extended Spring Training in 2012 before breaking camp with the Staten Island Yankees.

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