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  • Twins Top Prospect Jhoan Duran Deals in Season Debut


    HE THREW 103* MPH MULTIPLE TIMES.

    *Realistically, 100 mph, but STILL.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

    It was 81 degrees at CHS Field by the bottom of the third inning Saturday evening, but it wasn’t because it’s late May in Minnesota and summer is right around the corner. No, it was because St. Paul Saints starter Jhoan Duran was PUMPING HEAT.

    Duran - the Minnesota Twins’ #2 pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline (#1 according to Twins Daily) - made his season debut for the Saints after being recently reinstated from the IL with a shoulder injury and touched 103 mph on multiple occasions according to CHS Field’s admittedly hot gun. He threw 63 pitches, allowed four hits and one earned run, and struck out six across three innings. (Check out the box score here.)

    The Twins’ right-handed, flamethrowing top prospect mixed in a fair amount of curveballs and “splinkers” - a splitter/sinker hybrid that dives down and in to right-handed batters - to go along with his four seam fastball, which, when combined with his erraticism, kept the Indianapolis batters on their heels; his fastball sat around 100 mph, while the splinker came in around the low-90s and the curveball in the low- to mid-80s.

    Duran used all three of his pitches to pick up six Ks over his three frames of work, though it was clear that nearly every Indianapolis batter was, understandably, sitting fastball. Even still, they couldn’t do much to prevent Duran from blowing it right past them. Even Ke’Bryan Hayes - the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect who was in town on a rehab assignment - fell victim to his electric fastball.

    Duran’s delivery - out of the wind up as well as the stretch - is pretty fluid and repeatable. Unlike fellow top prospect Matt Canterino, it doesn’t force his arm into a violent whip-action, though the Twins pitching staff would probably like to see him use his legs a little more as doing so would relieve some pressure off his shoulder and elbow and may also help with his control; entering Saturday, Duran was averaging 3.2 BB/9 and owned a 2.8 K/BB ratio during his five seasons in the minors.

    However, it’s impossible to watch Duran pitch and not be excited about his raw stuff. Brusdar Graterol became an instant fan-favorite due to his triple-digit fastball, but what prevented him from being considered a starter in the long-term - other than his injury history - was his violent delivery in combination with his lack of a reliable second pitch. Duran checks both of those boxes and if his curveball - and more importantly, his control - continue to improve, he has the potential to be a high-end starter in the Big Leagues and relatively soon. 

    A brief word on Nick Gordon

    Nick Gordon picked up two more hits Saturday night and has been primarily playing shortstop during his first eight games with the Saints. His OPS continues to hover around 1.000, though he only has four walks and two extra base hits, a home run and a triple.

    Still, Gordon has looked really good. He’s swinging the bat with confidence and his speed on the base paths has caused teams to keep many eyes on him, no matter what base he is on. It seems as though he has fully recovered from his rash of injuries and his scary battle with COVID-19.

    Defensively, he’s more than held his own. Though his arm strength will prevent him from playing at short for the Twins, he’s shown enough of an acumen there to be encouraged about his potential to play second base a la Jorge Polanco. He’ll never live up to the status of his No. 5 overall selection, but it’s becoming more and more clear with each passing day that he has the bat skills to carve out a legitimate Major League career. In many ways, he’s not all that dissimilar in profile from Luis Arráez. 

    Should the Twins need a utilityman or should Arráez’s shoulder injury keep him out for some time, Gordon may get the nod as he has earned another call up. 

    A briefer word on Ryan Jeffers

    Ryan Jeffers’ low batting average and OPS for the Saints may have some fans concerned, but the numbers aren’t as sinister as they seem at first blush.

    By and large, Jeffers has been doing fine at the plate, though his hits have admittedly come in fits and spurts. He’s tattooed a number of balls right at defenders and has walked eight times in 60 at-bats, both of which are encouraging signs. He even hit a walk-off home run last week

    He could use a bit more seasoning at the Triple-A level, but Jeffers should find himself back across the river before too long. He hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been terrible either.

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    Yeah, the gun there at CHS appears to be 3-5 mph higher than reality.  I've taken an interest in this across MLB, too, over the years.  Yankee Stadium is 3 mph high.  Target Field has been pretty accurate over the years.  This "analysis" is pretty subjective, but it's easy to see the difference between ballparks, and you have to assume the lowest readings are the most accurate.

    I don't have a lot to compare CHS to, other than Target Field, but I think it's an easy comparison.  You do have to be careful to not give a lot of credence to Bailey Ober's 92-93 mph fastball at Target Field on Tuesday, as that dipped quickly to 89 once the adrenaline wore off.

    So, yeah, Duran.  If he's in the high 90s, that's pretty good.

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    If his instructions were to just go out and throw strikes to get his feel back, I give his outing an A grade.

    Here are the batters he faced in the first inning tonight. Note pitch location. (Also note: there may be an issue with how MiLb plotted pitches at bottom of strike zone)

    Anyway, Duran’s first five batters last night:

     

    96E20787-46E2-48FA-A428-45BE7600F910.jpeg

    8F52AD0E-B4BE-43A4-AECF-384C43BA6368.jpeg

    A9E4B0B5-726C-42A7-9391-A1E5ECD1368F.jpeg

    80305156-6107-4404-ACFC-59B1845E0EE3.jpeg

    37691706-E77F-48AD-B2BB-3CC39637C04C.jpeg

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    3 hours ago, twinstalker said:

    Yeah, the gun there at CHS appears to be 3-5 mph higher than reality.  I've taken an interest in this across MLB, too, over the years.  Yankee Stadium is 3 mph high.  Target Field has been pretty accurate over the years.  This "analysis" is pretty subjective, but it's easy to see the difference between ballparks, and you have to assume the lowest readings are the most accurate.

    I don't have a lot to compare CHS to, other than Target Field, but I think it's an easy comparison.  You do have to be careful to not give a lot of credence to Bailey Ober's 92-93 mph fastball at Target Field on Tuesday, as that dipped quickly to 89 once the adrenaline wore off.

    So, yeah, Duran.  If he's in the high 90s, that's pretty good.

    Sean Aronson, the voice of the Saints (and their PR/media director) has talked on their broadcast about the radar readings. They have Trackman information in the press box as well, so they can compare the actual mph (per Trackman) to the number shown using the stadium radar gun. 

    Last night, Aronson noted that after talking to the Saints manager and pitching personnel, their radar gun appears to be pretty accurate until it reaches into the upper 90s. At that point, it appears to be 2-3 mph fast. So, 102 on their gun likely translates to 99-100. 103 translates to 100-101. 

    As for Ober, he was (understandably) amped up... I think he showed he can hit 92-93, but he may just be one of those pitchers who is better at 89-90. May get more spin, or more movement. That's all part of the development too if figuring that out. 

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