Top 50 Prospect Profile: Enmanuel Duran

<p>The new year is here, and the <b> Top 50</b> debuts tomorrow.&nbsp; The Top 50 will feature profiles, commentary, and analysis from the staff, Diamondbacks coaches and officials, as well as experts.&nbsp; In a system chock full of outfielders, Managing Editor James Renwick looks at the radar gun and sees triple digits when <b>Enmanuel Duran</b> throws.

Vital Statistics:

Name Enmanuel Duran
Position Pitcher
Age 20
Height 6'1"
Weight 178
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club Rookie Level Missoula Osprey (Pioneer League)

Rookie level prospects rarely make Top 50 lists, but when you are 20 years old, still growing, and already throw triple digits with natural downward movement, exceptions get made.  Duran, signed as a non drafted free agent in June of 2003, is an exception.

"He's still learning to pitch, still needs a lot of help," Duran's pitching coach at Missoula, Wellington Cepeda says of Duran.

Another in the string of closer prospects the Diamondbacks are developing, much of Duran's future will be determined in 2005.  He is likely to start the season in an Extended Spring Training, but could be placed as high as Low-A South Bend.  

Past and Future:  David Merchant was impressed by the youngster, "He'll need to work on the slider, just to change things up a bit, but that fastball is amazing.  It's almost like a splitter, but splitters aren't usually effective when they're thrown 96-97.  He won't really be tested until he gets to Double-A, but a heavy fastball like that is going to be effective at any level if he throws it for strikes.

Which of course becomes the other question.  A relatively high walk total (nearly one for every two innings pitched) has given Duran problems.  When he falls behind he has to bring that fastball into the hitting zone, and take something off it, making it much more hittable.  Even with those problems Duran posted a 2 to 1 ground ball to fly ball out ratio, and with better control, that could easily become four or five to one.

"You almost never see this," Merchant says, "but he actually has to take something off that fastball to get it up, usually it's the other way around, and when he does that he can get tagged."

'04 Clubs W-L Saves ERA Ground Ball/Fly Ball Ratio IP K/BB
(Rookie Pioneer League) Missoula Osprey 2-1 2 5.13 1.98:1 33.1 38/16

Pitches:  He has three pitches, a fastball, slider, and something resembling a change, but really, it's all about that fastball, heavy, with a natural sink to it.  He's comfortable in the 95-97 mph range, but was clocked with multiple guns over 100mph in the Dominican Summer League before coming to Missoula.

ETA:  Because there are no less than eight potential closers ahead of him in the system, the Diamondbacks are going to take it slow with Duran.  Learning to throw strikes is the first order of business, then getting the arm slot on his slider more consistent.  After that the sky's the limit for this kid, expect a debut somewhere around 2008 (when he'll only be turning 24), and a long healthy career as a major league closer after that.

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