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  • Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: #5 RHP Jhoan Duran


    Seth Stohs

    He’s tall. He’s strong. He throws a triple-digit fastball. He has as many as five pitches, including one with a cool nickname. There are a lot of reasons to like the potential of Twins pitching prospect Jhoan Duran, Twins Daily’s #5 prospect heading into the 2021 season.

    Image courtesy of Pensacola Blue Wahoos (graphics by Brock Beauchamp)

    Age: 23 (DOB: 1-8-1998)

    2020 Stats: Pitched at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul.

    ETA: 2021

    2020 Ranking: #6

    National Top 100 Rankings

    BA: NR |MLB: NR | ATH: 83 |BP: NR

    What’s To Like

    Before becoming the Twins bench coach before the 2020 season, Mike Bell spent eight years as the Vice President of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In July of 2018, the Twins sent infielder Eduardo Escobar to Arizona in exchange for three players including Jhoan Duran.

    A year ago, I was talking to Bell about Duran. “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization. I’m super-excited to reconnect with him.”

    Bell noted, “When we saw him, he had a real heavy sinker. We took some baby steps with him. We knew the kind of talent he was, so we were playing it pretty safe with him in rookie ball. We saw a fastball up to 99 with heavy sink, and he is around the strike zone with command.”

    Duran has continued to develop. A year ago, he was added to the 40-man roster, and he spent the 2020 season at the Twins alternate training site in St. Paul. When he pitched in some intrasquad games ahead of the start of the regular season, he impressed fans and coaches alike.

    Duran is an intimidating presence on the mound. He stands 6-5 and is a very-strong 230 pounds. He is blessed with a fastball that sits in the upper-90s and frequently hits triple-digits.

    As he said a year ago in a Twins Fest interview, he likes his fastball but he is very comfortable with his sinker as well, a pitch that is sometimes called a “splinker.” (combination split-finger fastball and sinker) Whatever it is called, it has the potential to be a big pitch for him as it can sink and fade in on a right-handed batter as seen below.

    https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1334375496218456065

    The third pitch will be the key to the trajectory of his career. He has a really solid breaking ball that will just need to be cleaned up. He has a sharp slider but also occasionally will throw a slower curveball. If even one of those pitches can become an average pitch, he could be a starter for a long time.

    https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1165073773604823040

    What’s Left To Work On

    At this stage, it is really just about refining his stuff and getting to the big leagues and gaining confidence in it.

    The third pitch, whether it’s a slow curveball, a slider or a change up will likely determine whether he can remain a starter or will need to be a reliever. That’s a question for every starter, especially guys that throw as hard as Duran.

    He has generally shown good control in the minor leagues, but he will need to sharpen his command to find success in the big leagues.

    What’s Next

    Duran ended the 2019 season with a handful of starts at Double-A Pensacola. He then impressed during his time in St. Paul in 2020. He will again head to big league spring training. While he may technically be competing with Randy Dobnak and others for the Twins fifth starter role, he will likely start the season with the Saints. The Twins could even justify sending him to Double-A Wichita for another partial season if needed since he missed game-innings in 2020. .

    Assuming he continues to impress and make improvements, it is very likely he will make his MLB debut in 2021. Because of the lack of innings in 2020, he could be on a pitch and innings limit in 2021, so it’s possible he could debut out of the Twins bullpen late in the season too. This kind of arm warrants patience and caution.

    Yesterday, Cody asked if you think Balazovic should be the Twins top pitching prospect? After reading today's profile, what do you think? Is it Balazovic or Duran? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    Twins Daily 2021 Top 20 Prospects

    Honorable Mentions

    20. Bailey Ober, RHP

    19. Jose Miranda, INF

    18. Alerick Soularie, OF

    17. Ben Rortvedt, C

    16. Edwar Colina, RHP

    15. Cole Sands, RHP

    14. Misael Urbina, OF

    13. Matt Wallner, OF

    12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B

    11. Gilberto Celestino, OF

    10. Blayne Enlow, RHP

    9. Matt Canterino, RHP

    8. Aaron Sabato, 1B

    7. Keoni Cavaco, SS

    6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP

    5. Jhoan Duran, RHP

    Stop by on Monday for prospect #4!

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    That is one nasty pitch but if he only really has two pitches I would give the nod to Balazovic but if he does find that third pitch with the splinker I would have to give it to Duran.  That is just filthy.

     

    Nice to see 5 pretty solid guys in Duran, Balazovic, Canterino, Sands and Windor with some pretty impressive stuff. Would love to see all of them make it.

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    That is one nasty pitch but if he only really has two pitches I would give the nod to Balazovic but if he does find that third pitch with the splinker I would have to give it to Duran.  That is just filthy.

     

    Nice to see 5 pretty solid guys in Duran, Balazovic, Canterino, Sands and Windor with some pretty impressive stuff. Would love to see all of them make it.

     

    He throws 5 pitches, but the two are plus pitches and the other three are more average and still in progress... how they develop further may be the biggest thing to tell us what his future is. 

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    Nice to see 5 pretty solid guys in Duran, Balazovic, Canterino, Sands and Windor with some pretty impressive stuff. Would love to see all of them make it.

     

    I love the depth. Not every prospect turns out great, but when you have a handful of prospects, something good is going to happen. A couple of these guys are going to be solid or better starters for several years. 

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    Given that the question was 'best pitching prospect' rather than 'best starting pitching prospect' I'll go with Duran. When you can regularly hit triple digits on the radar gun with reasonable command, you are going to attract a lot of attention. While Balazovic has notably increased his velocity, I doubt he's going to be hitting triple digits. If Duran 'just' ends up as an overpower late inning arm, that would make him a highly valued prospect (see Brusdar Graterol).

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    I would choose to put them both in next years rotation - two young arms, two different styles - it should not be either or.  The Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe group better get their act together, the future is breathing down their necks. 

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    Thorpe, Graterol, Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Stewart, Jorge, Eades, Meyer, May. It's been a long time since one the team's top starting pitching prospects debuted and actually stuck as a starter. Berrios is getting lonely and he and Gibson were probably the only two since the Baker/Garza/Liriano/Blackburn era. We are way overdue for a homemade starter to click; I think Duran is going to be the one. Or I really want him to be the one anyway.

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    I would choose to put them both in next years rotation - two young arms, two different styles - it should not be either or.  The Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe group better get their act together, the future is breathing down their necks. 

     

    I agree on that group, especially Smeltzer and Thorpe, to a degree.  I'm still holding out hope (possibly ill-advised) on Dobnak.  He finished the year 1-4 in the giving his team a chance department.  Not a good finish, and he may be figured out.  However, I just can't stop rooting for the guy, because when he's on and the defense is on it makes for fun baseball.  I hope he ends up being the change of pace pitcher in the rotations of coming years. 

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    If he can change up his speeds on the fast ball to save a little, that will go a long way. I am not a fan of 5 pitches really I like 3 with the ability to change speeds on them to keep guys off balance.  Really those 4th and 5th pitches get tossed so rarely they are kind of waste to work on.  I have high hopes for him though.  

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    Thorpe, Graterol, Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Stewart, Jorge, Eades, Meyer, May. It's been a long time since one the team's top starting pitching prospects debuted and actually stuck as a starter. Berrios is getting lonely and he and Gibson were probably the only two since the Baker/Garza/Liriano/Blackburn era. We are way overdue for a homemade starter to click; I think Duran is going to be the one. Or I really want him to be the one anyway.

     

    Remember Kevin Slowey? It seems weird to look back and think I was really into Kevin Slowey lol

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    Standard Spanish pronunciation:  J is an aspirated English H and the H is silent.

     

    So, "hoan". But, given English butchering of all languages, they may call him anything from Juan to Ho'an. Or just dipthong the O-A, into an Asian expletitive used after eating food that is too hot:  HHHoooaaannn!

     

    I don't know.

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    Thorpe, Graterol, Romero, Gonsalves, Jay, Stewart, Jorge, Eades, Meyer, May. It's been a long time since one the team's top starting pitching prospects debuted and actually stuck as a starter. Berrios is getting lonely and he and Gibson were probably the only two since the Baker/Garza/Liriano/Blackburn era. We are way overdue for a homemade starter to click; I think Duran is going to be the one. Or I really want him to be the one anyway.

    Exactly what I was thinking.

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    I just think they need to let him find that third pitch and fine tune it and the others before they rush him to the big leagues. Rushing him will ruin him.Give him a chance to be a finished product.

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    He looks like a guy who just needs game innings to refine a third offering and get experience in mixing pitches to set up hitters. The talent is there. It will be interesting to see if the Twins have him focus on working on just one breaking ball this year to try and establish a solid 3-pitch mix. I'm guessing they'd work on the slider, partly because that seems to be an organizational preference, but also because it would probably work well with his other two pitches. While the slower curve could look really slow and throw people off against his hard stuff, it also might be a lot easier to detect.

     

    I'm really excited about Duran. I don't expect him to be a significant part of the rotation this season absent a ton of injuries, but he's on track to be a fixture in 2022 and that's fantastic. He could be really really good. At worst, he's a weapon in the bullpen, but he could be a feature in the top half of the rotation for years. 

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