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Twins Daily 2022 Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran


In a system full of high-upside, high-risk arms, Jhoan Duran probably tops both lists. An absolutely pivotal year lies ahead for the big righty.

Age: 24 (DOB: 1/8/98)
2021 Stats (AAA): 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 22 K, 13 BB
ETA: 2022
2021 Ranking: 5

National Top 100 Rankings

BA: NR | MLB: NR | ATH: NR | BP: NR

What's To Like

On May 27th of last year, Duran had it all working. His entire "What's To Like" section could essentially be boiled down to that outing alone.

Facing the Iowa Cubs in his second start of the year for St. Paul, the Dominican right-hander struck out eight over four innings of one-hit, shutout ball. He touched triple digits multiple times with his heater. He unleashed a bevy of nasty offspeed pitches, including his signature "splinker." 

 Duran was in command and flat-out dominant, showing every bit of the ability that made him the top pitcher in our rankings last year. 

This ability has more or less been on display since Duran first came to Minnesota at the 2018 deadline, when he led the return package from Arizona for Eduardo Escobar. In 167 innings as part of the Twins organization, he has 202 strikeouts and a 3.50 ERA, with just 132 hits allowed.

Duran's performance tailed off quickly last year after the aforementioned late-May gem, and he was shut down before the end of June due to an elbow strain. Concerning, obviously, but hardly damning after the disruption of a lost season in 2020. Plenty of other pitchers experienced health issues last year, inside and outside the Twins organization.

The Twins opted for a PRP injection rather than surgery. He was able to throw again in the fall, albeit not in live games – seemingly a positive sign. He's already 24 and hasn't built up much durability, so the bullpen is Duran's most likely destination at this point. 

And that's okay. So long as he stays off the injured list and is able to unleash his arsenal at full strength, he will be an asset. 

What's Left To Work On

Duran was not a perfect prospect even before injuries wiped out his 2021 season – his control and changeup both need work, especially if he hopes to stick as a starter – but simply keeping himself on the mound would be a huge accomplishment for the 6-foot-5 hurler in 2022. 

Throwing 16 innings total over the past two years is a major setback to his workload development, although he'd built up a decent baseline beforehand by throwing 100 innings in 2018 and 115 in 2019. 

His big sturdy build and previous history of durability provide hope Duran can get back on track health-wise. But we'll have to see him get through a couple months incident-free in order to feel confident the team's course of action in 2021 negated a need for surgery, rather than delaying it.

What's Next

It's unknown exactly what the Twins' plan is for Duran this year. There's been no indication the club intends to move him into the bullpen straightaway, but surely they will be very cautious with his innings – even his pitch counts and stress levels within those innings. 

On one hand, keeping him in Triple-A for awhile seems like the best way to carefully manage his arm. On the other hand, if he truly is healthy and throwing flames again, you don't necessarily wanna waste a bunch of his bullets in the minors. 

It might be the best way to bring Duran along is as a multi-inning reliever, which would fit with the vision for a modular pitching staff that doesn't rely on traditional six-inning starters to shoulder the load. 

Unless and until the Twins make some impactful veteran additions to the rotation, I'm going to assume they're tentatively planning as such. If healthy (a big IF, clearly), I'd give Duran a decent chance of winning a roster spot in spring training and a strong chance of debuting in the first half of the season.

Previous Rankings

Honorable Mentions
Prospects 16-20
Prospects 11-15
#10: Josh Winder, RHP
#9: Chase Petty, RHP
#8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
#7: Jhoan Duran, RHP
#6: Coming tomorrow!


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Not much to say that wasn't already said in the article. He hasn't played much the last two years so it is really hard to say just where he is at. Like the OP just hoping for a healthy season at this point.  If that arm does return healthy and he can start that would be the best case scenario as he does seem to have special stuff.

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The essay brings up a question for me - which is harder on a pitchers arm - pitching out of the bullpen 3 - 4 times a week (including warmups) or starting once a week?  I do not know the answer, But I do know RP are very erratic and few can match a Nathan for consistency from year to year.  

I do hope Duran can start.  I can never subscribe to modular pitching so I will pass on that.  But if it is to be the BP I fine, but I do hope he is up this year and producing for us. 

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I think the idea would be for him is a bulk pitcher,  about 4 innings 3 times every two weeks.  That might limit the stress.  You are talking a max of 80 pitches while he builds back his arm strength.  Whether he does that in St. Paul or with the Twins is TBD. 

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Great reading, Nick, thanks.

Don't recall seeing the term, "modular pitching staff" anywhere before.  Is that your term?  Or is it being used around baseball?

Whether it is once thru the lineup (2-to-3 innings) or twice (4-5 innings), something like this makes sense.  Not certain how the numbers work with limits of 13 pitchers.  Is that limitation still in place?  Or won't we know until the CBA is signed?

Would also think that if you had pairs of pitchers piggy-backed to hopefully get 7 innings, you would still need at least five guys in the bullpen to close out most games.  If these pitchers are pitching 3 or 4 innings a game, would they be available every fourth day, rather than every fifth?  If they were, you could have 8 of them and 5 traditional relievers to close out games. 

Can certainly see Duran being effective in this type of role this year.  Expect he will begin at St Paul, assuming major league players begin the season anywhere.

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#10, 9, 8 and 7 are all promising pitchers. And there are 6 more spots to go, which will surely contain three more pitchers (Strotman, Caterino and Balazovic).  I like it. 7 out of the top 10 prospects will be promising pitchers. Plus, neither Ober nor Ryan are eligible for this prospect list.  That means, my friends, that the Twins have at least nine young, good, promising pitchers...some of whom can really throw heat. What are the odds that 50% will pan out to be useful major league pitchers?  What are the odds that 2 of the 9 will become healthy, long-term starters? This group of pitchers is what I was hoping for when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were hired. Thanks FO. Plus Lewis, Martin and Miranda will all be productive major leaguers for years to come. I am very optimistic for the Twins future. Especially IF, and these are 3 huge IF's, Lewis can quickly become 1) an above average, major league fielding SS, 2) an average hitter and 3) a team leader.

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Some pitchers have problems with recovery after pitching. thus the term loose arm and problems for many in throwing back to back games (Rogers?). Can Duran pitch an inning or two every other day? He should likely make his introduction in MLB as a relief pitcher in stints less of two innings or less until the Twins can ascertain the full story of how his arm reacts to pitching. 

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37 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

#10, 9, 8 and 7 are all promising pitchers. And there are 6 more spots to go, which will surely contain three more pitchers (Strotman, Caterino and Balazovic).  I like it. 7 out of the top 10 prospects will be promising pitchers. Plus, neither Ober nor Ryan are eligible for this prospect list.  That means, my friends, that the Twins have at least nine young, good, promising pitchers...some of whom can really throw heat. What are the odds that 50% will pan out to be useful major league pitchers?  What are the odds that 2 of the 9 will become healthy, long-term starters? This group of pitchers is what I was hoping for when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were hired. Thanks FO. Plus Lewis, Martin and Miranda will all be productive major leaguers for years to come. I am very optimistic for the Twins future. Especially IF, and these are 3 huge IF's, Lewis can quickly become 1) an above average, major league fielding SS, 2) an average hitter and 3) a team leader.

I think Ryan is still prospect Eligible so likely coming up soon.  I think Strotman is likely out of the top 10 as he is in the teens on most lists I have seen.  Still your point stands and I too am encouraged with the quality of the pitchers coming up.  Most have mid 90's fastballs and plus secondary's so I am optimistic as well..

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He's running out of minor league options which means he needs to debut this season. That means he's probably headed to the bullpen. If he's only a reliever then he's ranked too high. If he loses this season to surgery then I think he's out of options next spring without any big league experience.

 

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Agreed the Twins need to do everything they can to see if Duran can stick as a starter, but he feels like a reliever to me. And I don't see that as a bad thing. If he can go 2 innings at a time with his 100 MPH fastball and low 80s "splinker" he'd be a great weapon out of the bullpen. Teams are moving more and more towards building staffs of "out getters." The ideal is still having a staff full of deGrom, Scherzer, Bieber, and Buehler types, but those guys are special and not growing on trees. For teams who can't (won't?) spend 25+ million on a starter the strategy is to get a collection of guys who can get outs and figure out how many outs they can get on a regular basis. Is it once through the order? Twice? 1 inning? 100 pitches? what is their ability and what can their arm handle. It feels like the Twins will go this way a little more this year as they have so many arms on the 40-man who have no MLB experience and don't have great innings numbers after the last 2 years.

The playoffs last year will give teams even more hope in this strategy. The 2 teams in the World Series both went pretty hard on the "out getters" strategy in the postseason (for various reasons).

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15 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

He's running out of minor league options which means he needs to debut this season. That means he's probably headed to the bullpen. If he's only a reliever then he's ranked too high. If he loses this season to surgery then I think he's out of options next spring without any big league experience.

 

I agree with this, IMO he is rated too high. He will be 24 this season which isn't horrible, but having pitched only 16 innings the last two years isn't a good.  IMO if he is running out of options, it makes no sense to waste any time in the minors, he can pitch out of the bullpen (starting with low stress situations, maybe have a starter and have him planned to pitch two innings, or coming in for a couple innings if a starter goes bad) in majors and keep his innings down and be around major league coaches. I seen no reason to be wasting 100 mph fast balls from a 24 year old pitcher in AAA. Or trade him and let the other team worry about the 40 man roster spot, like TB did with Strotman)

Not to change the subject but are all the other teams having issues with pitching injuries based on the missed 2020 season or are the Twins fans (me included) just wanting to make excuses?

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1 hour ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

#10, 9, 8 and 7 are all promising pitchers. And there are 6 more spots to go, which will surely contain three more pitchers (Strotman, Caterino and Balazovic).  I like it. 7 out of the top 10 prospects will be promising pitchers. Plus, neither Ober nor Ryan are eligible for this prospect list.  That means, my friends, that the Twins have at least nine young, good, promising pitchers...some of whom can really throw heat. What are the odds that 50% will pan out to be useful major league pitchers?  What are the odds that 2 of the 9 will become healthy, long-term starters? This group of pitchers is what I was hoping for when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were hired. Thanks FO. Plus Lewis, Martin and Miranda will all be productive major leaguers for years to come. I am very optimistic for the Twins future. Especially IF, and these are 3 huge IF's, Lewis can quickly become 1) an above average, major league fielding SS, 2) an average hitter and 3) a team leader.

I wouldn’t sleep on Varland and Sands either. Plus Dobnak and Jax could be serviceable major leaguers too. So that’s 13 pitchers - if just two become regular #2-3 type starters and two/three are consistent #4 types, our Twins will have a solid AND very cheap/controllable starting staff for several years. 
 

There will be plenty of opportunities for Duran to an ultra effective pen piece if that’s ultimately his best role. 
 

Re Lewis, yes, an everyday SS would be huge. However, I’d be more than happy if he turned out to be an anchor corner OF along with Martin either side of Buxton. 

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I'm hoping that Duran will turn out be like Alcala. Alcala came up & figured it out, he could be figured into the "modular pitching staff". Modular pitching staff seems to be the only way to accommodate our current pitching staff, especially after trading away Berrios. Even if we pick up a SP or 2 that can go 5+ quality innings, we still need a large rotating long relief corp (which they failed to do last season, which I credit to our early large hole) to give relief to the usually over burdened rotation and short relief . Duran should eventually fit into this scheme.

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3 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

I'm hoping that Duran will turn out be like Alcala. Alcala came up & figured it out, he could be figured into the "modular pitching staff". Modular pitching staff seems to be the only way to accommodate our current pitching staff, especially after trading away Berrios. Even if we pick up a SP or 2 that can go 5+ quality innings, we still need a large rotating long relief corp (which they failed to do last season, which I credit to our early large hole) to give relief to the usually over burdened rotation and short relief . Duran should eventually fit into this scheme.

Yeah I am kind of excited about the possibility of Alcala and Duran as pitchers that can throw 100 out of the pen.  They could rotate them and always have a high octane arm to use.  Having those types of arms can make a big difference especially come playoff time.

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17 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

I'm hoping that Duran will turn out be like Alcala. Alcala came up & figured it out, he could be figured into the "modular pitching staff". Modular pitching staff seems to be the only way to accommodate our current pitching staff, especially after trading away Berrios. Even if we pick up a SP or 2 that can go 5+ quality innings, we still need a large rotating long relief corp (which they failed to do last season, which I credit to our early large hole) to give relief to the usually over burdened rotation and short relief . Duran should eventually fit into this scheme.

Lets hope Duran figures out better than Alcala, Alcala might have figured it based on his last 10-20 innings against some of the worst teams in baseball in his second season.

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17 minutes ago, Dman said:

Yeah I am kind of excited about the possibility of Alcala and Duran as pitchers that can throw 100 out of the pen.  They could rotate them and always have a high octane arm to use.  Having those types of arms can make a big difference especially come playoff time.

I just don't see this happening. 100 inning relief pitchers for a bunch of reasons. Scott Proctor was the last pitcher to do it at age 29 for his career basically last one more year. Dellin Betances pitched 90 as a 25 year old rookie went down each of the next four years, and has been hurt or terrible the last 3.

Also, I can't imagine union or at least player agents being OK, with bringing up pitchers on the cheap to pitch 100 innings and then basically their career being over or not have a chance for a multiple year contracts.  Also I see agents steering their players away from teams setting up their minor leagues system to implement it. But all this just my opinion.

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14 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

I just don't see this happening. 100 inning relief pitchers for a bunch of reasons. Scott Proctor was the last pitcher to do it at age 29 for his career basically last one more year. Dellin Betances pitched 90 as a 25 year old rookie went down each of the next four years, and has been hurt or terrible the last 3.

Also, I can't imagine union or at least player agents being OK, with bringing up pitchers on the cheap to pitch 100 innings and then basically their career being over or not have a chance for a multiple year contracts.  Also I see agents steering their players away from teams setting up their minor leagues system to implement it. But all this just my opinion.

Not 100 innings but 100 on the gun. I would protect Duran's arm especially this season and he will have to start at AAA and be dominant just to get a chance so there are plenty of ifs for this year.  But two flame throwers would be nice.

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1 hour ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

Lets hope Duran figures out better than Alcala, Alcala might have figured it based on his last 10-20 innings against some of the worst teams in baseball in his second season.

It's all a progression. Alcala started out pretty well against RH hitters and then there was adapting and development. He's still developing and has progressed in the right direction and he has value for the Twins. I don't expect Duran to set the world on fire (although he might), My hope is he'll be serviceable for the Twins, continue to develop in the right direction and adapt to the hitters adapting to him.

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I see Jhoan Duran as a Fernando Romero type right now. Way, way overhyped. First, I feel it's a longshot Duran avoids being relegated to the bullpen... and that's if he can actually get guys out in the high minors enough for him to earn a spot on the big league roster.

I might have Duran in the top 20 Twins prospects right now, but probably not in the top 15.

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6 hours ago, Dman said:

I think Ryan is still prospect Eligible so likely coming up soon.  I think Strotman is likely out of the top 10 as he is in the teens on most lists I have seen.  Still your point stands and I too am encouraged with the quality of the pitchers coming up.  Most have mid 90's fastballs and plus secondary's so I am optimistic as well..

Strotman wasn't listed in this series of listings previously in the 11 - 20, nor in the honorable mention list, so I figure he will be in this list. Maybe I'm wrong. If Ryan is eligible to be part of this list, then I will be wrong about Strotman. 

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5 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

I wouldn’t sleep on Varland and Sands either. Plus Dobnak and Jax could be serviceable major leaguers too. So that’s 13 pitchers - if just two become regular #2-3 type starters and two/three are consistent #4 types, our Twins will have a solid AND very cheap/controllable starting staff for several years. 
 

There will be plenty of opportunities for Duran to an ultra effective pen piece if that’s ultimately his best role. 
 

Re Lewis, yes, an everyday SS would be huge. However, I’d be more than happy if he turned out to be an anchor corner OF along with Martin either side of Buxton. 

Lewis, Martin and Buxton would be a terrific defensive OF. Now about the SS position....

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1 hour ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Strotman wasn't listed in this series of listings previously in the 11 - 20, nor in the honorable mention list, so I figure he will be in this list. Maybe I'm wrong. If Ryan is eligible to be part of this list, then I will be wrong about Strotman. 

I guess I hadn't realized that.  MLB.com has him at 17 and Fangraphs at 7 so you have a point that he could still be there.  It is just that Seth just had him number 15 for just pitchers in the system and that is why I figured he wouldn't be top 6.

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Jhoan Duran, he has the power of fire in his hand. Let him live in the bullpen, to see if he can control this fire for the Twins. Maybe Wes Johnson can teach him to throw the same speed with a little less strain to his elbow and shoulder. If so, it could help him control his power. 

We know Duran will pitch in spring training. Who will throw faster? Nobody. With a lack of established attractions on the pitching staff (no Berrios, no Maeda, no Pineda), it could be a very cold April at the box office if the Twins don't heat things up a little by keeping a chair open for Duran. 

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I feel as though some people here forget that just because Duran might start in the BP this year doesn't mean he will stay there for his career. There are a lot of pitchers these days who start off in the BP for the innings and to be with the MLB coaches and then transition back to full time starters after a year or two. Even for the Twins, I can think of a couple guys in the early and mid 00's that had pretty good careers as starters who made debuts in the BP.

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