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Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran

As you recall, the Twins front office was awfully busy around the trade deadline in 2018. It was a tough time for some Twins fans who would miss seeing some of their favorite players dealt to contending teams. The one positive to come out of that situation was the acquisition of some quality talent including our choice for the Twins #7 prospect, Jhoan Duran.

Jhoan Duran came to the Twins along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad in exchange for Eduardo Escobar. When the trade was made, we knew very little about the three. It’s fair to say that Duran has made a strong impression in his short time with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)
Age: 21 (DOB: 1-8-1998)
2018 Stats (Low-A): 100.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 115/38 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP
ETA: 2021
2018 Ranking: NR

National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR |MLB: NR | ESPN: NR |BP: NR


What’s To Like
There is a lot to like. When Jhoan Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, he was tall and lanky. That means that he was often touted as “projectable” as he had room to fill out. When the 2018 season ended, Duran stood 6-5 and weighed in at about 220 pounds.

With the increased strength, Duran’s fastball has taken off. Duran throws 94-96 and even touched 98 mph. If you watched Tom Froemming’s Prospect Spotlight on Duran, he was hitting 96 in late August despite already being over his previous career high innings. He also gets some sink on his pitches.

Duran also throws what appears to be two different breaking balls. He has a slider that can dart out of the zone, but he also has more of a curveball that drops. Both can be swing-and-miss pitches. He also is working to improve his changeup. Potentially, he’s got a big fastball with movement, four pitches and the ability to miss bats. Yes, potentially there is a whole lot to like in Jhoan Duran.

What’s Left To Work On
For Duran, he needs to work on the things that all young pitchers need to work on.

While he has shown good control, he will need to continue to improve his command.

While most believe that he can remain a starter, that will likely depend on continuing to improve and be more consistent with his secondary pitches. Especially, his changeup remains a work-in-progress. Development of that third (and maybe fourth) pitch may determine whether he remains a starter or if he becomes a potentially dominant, triple-digit throwing late-inning reliever.

Before his six-inning stint to end the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, his numbers had not yet matched his stuff. He had an ERA of 4.75 a 1.50 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings with Kane County before the trade. He struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 3.9 per nine innings. After joining the Kernels, he was incredible, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP over 36 innings. He increased his K-rate to 11.0 per nine innings, and reduced his walks per nine innings to 2.5. So was it a great, short-sample size six-game stint, which included seven no-hit innings in his Kernels debut, or has Duran actually turned corner in his career?

What’s Next

After spending last season in Cedar Rapids, Duran will start the 2019 season in Fort Myers. At this point, it’s all about developing those things (third and fourth pitches, consistent command). Working in the Florida State League should allow him an opportunity to put up some big numbers and potentially continue to rise up the Twins prospect charts. If he gets off to a strong start, he will certainly be a candidate for a midseason promotion to the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola.


TD Top Prospects: Honorable Mention
TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospects: #10 Akil Baddoo
TD Top Prospects: #9 Blayne Enlow
TD Top Prospects: #8 Lewis Thorpe
TD Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran
TD Top Prospects: #6 Coming Tomorrow…


Get to know more about Duran and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)

ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)

The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.

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47 Comments

 

He was a BA top 100 prospect in 2017 and 2018... so if he was overrated, it was by all... but I also think that leads to the point that we need to be a bit patient with him. Not every prospect hits the ground running (see Berrios, Jose). There's still time for him to put it together.

I think his stuff would play just fine.In 2017 he was sitting at 2.4 BB/9. In 2018 it was 4.8 in the minors and 8.00 in the majors.Sandy Koufax couldn't succeed at 8 walks per 9.I thought his arm was live with decent stuff (granted I was just judging by the TV screen) but he was all over the place. I still have hopes that he will be better than just back of rotation but that walk rate has to get below 3.  

    • DannySD likes this

 

It's especially interesting to peek at these rankings against Keith Law's recent list; there's a pretty significant divergence all over the place (except for the top 2). Law is calling Duran a one pitch guy and definitely sees him as a reliever.

 

I wonder how much of the differences are based in proximity (TD guys might have more granular detail) and how much in preference (everyone may value things differently in prospects). But KLaw definitely agrees more with Tom on Duran...

 

Sometimes I hate how Law stunts my optimism on certain prospects but I have learned he is right more often than wrong.Duran is young and has a good fastball but like most young pitchers his secondaries are suspect.So I can see where Law is coming from.Also it isn't often that we are treated to a minor league no hitter for seven innings by one of our pitchers so I think seeing what we saw makes us more optimistic than most.

 

We will just have to wait and see what happens.Law did not see Berrios being a top of the rotation starter this early either.It took a lot of development before Law came around on him.Duran has the fastball so a little development and he can be a top of the rotation piece as well.Just have to hope he can figure things out.

    • birdwatcher, howieramone2 and gagu like this

 

Nope, no expert has ever thought Gonsalves was a front end guy. Maybe a few fans did.

 

When Gonzo was 3rd in TD's rankings, the system was at best a top 10 system. This year, it's a top 5ish system. In retrospect, his #3 ranking was probably generous.

 

He fell for two main reasons: one, because a whole slew of prospects have surged for legitimate reasons, Graterol being a prime case in point, and two, he's probably lost some luster because of his rough start in MLB and the things his debut illuminated to reinforce the expert views that he probably settles in as a back end guy if he fixes his remaining skill deficiencies.

 

I think you'd be reaching for something that's not there to conclude what you're suggesting.

So I was replying to the following:

"Problem is that not so long ago Gonsalves was thought of as a for sure #3 and possibly a #2."

 

Not sure when #3 and possibly #2 is considered front end guy?

 

My only real point is there is no way a prospect should ever be rated as a teams third overall prospect or a top 100 list if his ceiling is a 4 or 5 starter.

 

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drivlikejehu
Feb 07 2019 02:47 PM

Clear over-ranking I think. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 07 2019 03:35 PM

 

So I was replying to the following:

"Problem is that not so long ago Gonsalves was thought of as a for sure #3 and possibly a #2."

 

Not sure when #3 and possibly #2 is considered front end guy?

 

My only real point is there is no way a prospect should ever be rated as a teams third overall prospect or a top 100 list if his ceiling is a 4 or 5 starter.

 

I think it's a bit too soon to say his ceiling is a 4/5... In Gonsalves case, his floor is looking like a reliver or a AAAA type, so yeah, I think if he can make the right changes, he can certainly end up as a better than average SP... that's not necessarily a 1 or 2, but still a pretty good pitcher. 

 

Back to Duran, yeah, he's a bit high. I'd have Thorpe rated higher, that's for sure. But the stuff is good enough that you have to pay attention. He will definitely be on the must watch list this year. 

    • Mike Sixel and howieramone2 like this
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The Billy Goat
Feb 07 2019 04:20 PM
It seems the newer a prospect, the higher the chance that they are over-ranked. It's almost like we try to will them to be worth trading away a major league asset. Twins fans see a pitcher with the right build, good velo, who pitched to a 2.00 ERA in our organization. In 64% of his innings last year he was a 4.75 ERA pitcher for the Diamondbacks organization. I'd personally have him ranked 15th or so. When we traded away Luis Gil to the Yankees for Jake Cave, Gil instantly received prospect love. Baseball Prospectus even has him as the #6 prospect in the Yankee's organization. We always love the newest toy.
    • Mike Sixel, Dantes929, h2oface and 3 others like this
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108Stitches
Feb 07 2019 06:13 PM
Prospect status is obviously heavily weighted on throwing hard and/or how much money they have invested in the guy. Forget the mediocre numbers in low level ball amirite? We have to have wishful thinking because we can’t possibly be wrong lol
I totally understand the ranking status vs Gonsalves. Gonsalves has mediocre stuff that could be successful with excellent control. There is the rub: he doesn’t have it and hasn’t throughout his minors career. He has to develop much better control or he is a AAAA pitcher
    • Dantes929 and Ben Noble like this
I repeat what others have said, and I have before as well, just way too early to get bent out of shape on Gonsalves after a few bad rookie outings. Reminder: his last few appearances as the "primary" looked much better. On top of that, he has adapted and excelled at every level he has reached. And his control problems in 2018 were not season-wide, it seemed to come in stretches, where in other stretches his control was just fine. I believe his ceiling is a #3 who should settle in very nicely as at least a quality #4-5. But let's give him more than a few rookie appearances before we decide he can't cut it shall we?

Right or wrong I tend to look at Alcala and Duran as 2 sides of the same coin. Probably because they both came to us last season in trade and we haven't watched them "grow up" in the Twins organization. But from all I have read, they both bring serious heat and have questions about secondary offerings, but with potential. Alcala, a bit older and having reached AA ball, I guess, strikes me as the more likely to end up in the pen. Is that fair? Probably not. I admit to being influenced by his numbers once he came over, as well as the video Tom shared, to think Duran may have more time/potential as a quality SP.

Fair or not, just kind of where my head is at.
    • gagu likes this

 

Is there some way, Seth, that you all can factor in the probability of player X reaching his ceiling.Kind of like going to Vegas and throwing the dice, knowing there is a 20% probability of X happening and a 30% probability of Y happening.  

 

Not all potential front of the rotation starters are the same.You may think that Graterol, for example, has a 30% chance of reaching his ceiling.Whereas, you may think that Duran has a 10% chance of reaching his ceiling with both having ceilings of an ACE.  

 

Has anyone attempted to do something like this?

 

Baseball HQs Minor League Analyst does something like that. They give a Grade for ceiling. something like 10 = Hall of Famer, 9 = regular All Star, 1 = AA... something like that. But then they give an Grade related to likelihood of reaching that potential. 

 

Curious what he has changed or gotten better in the Twins organization that he wasn't that highly rated in Arizona but is here?

Hoping it is more than he was traded for Escobar or the 7 inning no hitter he threw.

 

For me, it's the 6-5 and 220. It's the 94-98 mph fastball. Potentially four pitches. Young. Video of his stuff. and more. Also, I saw him on a mid-season Top 10 guy for Arizona from a couple of places I went to. Not that that meant anything in my personal ranking or evaluation, but it was there. 

    • DocBauer and gagu like this

 

He was the third best Twin's prospect at the beginning of last year.

Top 7 or so in 2016.

Somebody must have thought that, or the Twins prospects have been WAY over rated the last few year?

 

Or the system is stronger. 

It's also reality that as players move up the ladder, there are a lot more data points to evaluate.

 

I fully admit... I had his ceiling as a number 3 starter who had the potential to have a couple of seasons that might qualify as a #2 type season.

 

His 2018 debut didn't convince me that he can't still be that,though the likelihood is maybe more that he's a #4 with an upside as a #3. 

    • Dantes929 and DocBauer like this

 

It's especially interesting to peek at these rankings against Keith Law's recent list; there's a pretty significant divergence all over the place (except for the top 2). Law is calling Duran a one pitch guy and definitely sees him as a reliever.

 

I wonder how much of the differences are based in proximity (TD guys might have more granular detail) and how much in preference (everyone may value things differently in prospects). But KLaw definitely agrees more with Tom on Duran...

 

1.) I don't look at any other rankings before doing my list. It's my list. I don't want to be swayed by others.

 

2.) Keith Law ranked Jordan Balazovic as the #3 Twins prospect. 

    • ashburyjohn, gagu and DannySD like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 08 2019 03:22 AM

I understand your argument, but at some point there has to be a balance between stuff and statistics. I was disappointed to see that Gonsalves tops out at 91, doesn't have pitches that can strike out MLB hitters, and also has poor command. It's not that I've totally given up on him, but he looks to be a 5th starter or a decent reliever if things go right in my eyes. He's done a great job in the minors, but unlike Berrios I don't know if his stuff will let him be more than a AAAA pitcher.

Conversely, if Duran can put things together, he has the stuff to be a great starter. I could see him being a #2 starter if everything goes right, though mostly throughout his career, it hasn't gone right.


Danchat, I went back to the 2018 write-up of Gonsalves (he was ranked #4 in the system by TD at the time) and I found an interesting comment in the comment section:

“I'm hoping to see Gonsalves by July in the majors. From what I've read, it seems he'll slot in as a #3-4 starting pitcher. Having the young core of Berrios (#2), Gonsalves (#3), and Mejia (#4) and seeing them perform up to their talent levels would be huge for this team. Now if they only had a true ace...

“I am concerned about the recent trend of rookie starters for the Twins. This includes Kyle Gibson (10 starts, 6.53 ERA), Trevor May (9 starts, 7.88 ERA), Jose Berrios (14 starts, 8.02 ERA). Mejia's first 10 starts were OK (4.93 ERA). The only good recent rookie starter I could find was Tyler Duffey (10 starts, 3.10 ERA) and it's been all downhill from here.

“The Twins will have to be patient with Gonsalves... sophomore years have been much better for our starters.”

........

That comment, of course, was by you. I agree with you. Patience!
    • Danchat, DocBauer and gagu like this

Danchat, I went back to the 2018 write-up of Gonsalves (he was ranked #4 in the system by TD at the time) and I found an interesting comment in the comment section:

“I'm hoping to see Gonsalves by July in the majors. From what I've read, it seems he'll slot in as a #3-4 starting pitcher. Having the young core of Berrios (#2), Gonsalves (#3), and Mejia (#4) and seeing them perform up to their talent levels would be huge for this team. Now if they only had a true ace...

“I am concerned about the recent trend of rookie starters for the Twins. This includes Kyle Gibson (10 starts, 6.53 ERA), Trevor May (9 starts, 7.88 ERA), Jose Berrios (14 starts, 8.02 ERA). Mejia's first 10 starts were OK (4.93 ERA). The only good recent rookie starter I could find was Tyler Duffey (10 starts, 3.10 ERA) and it's been all downhill from here.

“The Twins will have to be patient with Gonsalves... sophomore years have been much better for our starters.”

........

That comment, of course, was by you. I agree with you. Patience!

Nice, digging up my old posts and using them against me! I probably should be more patient, though I will defend myself with these two points:

1: I didn’t know Gonsalves topped out at 91 and regularly threw pitches in the upper 80s
2: Gonsalves developed a command problem this season, not sure if that will continue

So yes, I do think he’ll pitch much better in year two, but he has several issues to address. Anyways, thanks for keeping me accountable.
    • ashburyjohn, h2oface and gagu like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Feb 08 2019 12:39 PM
I think Duran has some really interesting potential. Hopefully he can carry over his success from Cedar Rapids to Ft Myers. It seems for Duran control/command will be his biggest issue, not the legitimacy of his “stuff”. I look forward to following him this year.
Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on Highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe
    • h2oface likes this

When I dug into Duran after we acquired him, this article is what really started to pique my interest in him as a prospect.

 

The gist of the article is that he started having success last season when he began fully buying into coaching and the process of transforming himself into a pitcher, rather than just a thrower. And that's a huge development for me when it comes to pitching prospects.

    • Twins33 and DocBauer like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 08 2019 05:09 PM

Nice, digging up my old posts and using them against me! I probably should be more patient, though I will defend myself with these two points:

1: I didn’t know Gonsalves topped out at 91 and regularly threw pitches in the upper 80s
2: Gonsalves developed a command problem this season, not sure if that will continue

So yes, I do think he’ll pitch much better in year two, but he has several issues to address. Anyways, thanks for keeping me accountable.


It was a little heartless, I have to admit, but I couldn’t resist. I certainly don’t want to have to account for my past assertions! (I seem to recall a strong Tulowitzki post or five). Thanks for taking it in the right spirit.

Gonsalves might have a lower upside than people thought a year or two ago, but, I think people are reading too much into 24IP.
    • ashburyjohn likes this
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ashburyjohn
Feb 08 2019 07:31 PM

Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on Highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe

This seems indirect. Is it a comment you'd apply to every prospect, since there's no such thing as a sure thing and yet lots of us attach our hopes? Or, do you have specific concerns about Duran, going as far as likening him to a dead dog? If the latter, would you elaborate?

 

It was a little heartless, I have to admit, but I couldn’t resist. I certainly don’t want to have to account for my past assertions! (I seem to recall a strong Tulowitzki post or five). Thanks for taking it in the right spirit.

Gonsalves might have a lower upside than people thought a year or two ago, but, I think people are reading too much into 24IP.

I think one problem some of us (me) might have had is we see really good numbers in the minors, so we assume that'll transition in the majors. I remember being excited to see how AJ Achter would pitch with the Twins after a very good minor league career, but he simply didn't have MLB caliber stuff.

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operation mindcrime
Feb 09 2019 02:57 PM
I hope Duran goes full on beast mode this year!

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