Phillies Prospect #54: Michael Durant

In the low minors, it's important for players to show consistent progress and Michael Durant has done that. Unfortunately, there's more work to be done.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2005 Draft.

B: R  T: R  /  Height: 6' 5"  /  Weight: 230 lbs

2007 Team/League: Williamsport (New York - Penn League)

Positions Played in 2007: 1B (30 g), DH (15 g)

School: Berkeley High School

Michael Durant showed pure power and potential as a high schooler and the Phillies were impressed not only with his on the field promise, but by the strong character and work ethic that he showed. As a child, Durant's biological father wasn't around, but Durant was able to avoid all the pitfalls that often strike young people in that situation and raised eyebrows as a star player in both basketball and football in addition to baseball at Berkeley High School.

Some scouts thought that Durant was going to hit the pros and move through the system quickly, but that hasn't happened for Durant. He was back at short-season ball last season, but he had at least taken a step up from the Gulf Coast League to the New York - Penn League's Williamsport CrossCutters. He still didn't show enough offensively to make him a shoe-in for a promotion to Lakewood in 2008, but he's made strides each season and the Phillies are pleased with that and are quick to remind any naysayers that Durant just turned 21 earlier this month and came to the pro ranks from high school ball, meaning that there would be a long, slow learning curve for Durant to make his way through.

Batting and Power: Durant has kept his work ethic and attitude high and refuses to believe that he won't make it in the pros. The truth is that Durant has shown progress each season, but when you start your career with a .190 average, it's a long climb to respectability. In 2007, Durant hit .236 in his move to Williamsport and launched five home runs, a respectable number for 178 at bats. The power is there and Durant has refined his swing and mechanics in the box to where he can best harness the power that he has, although there is still some work to do for Durant. It was unfair that from the moment he was scouted, he was drawing comparisons to the likes of Frank Thomas and Ryan Howard, which is quite a comparison for a high schooler to handle. In size and looks, Durant compares to those two, but especially with three minor league seasons behind him comparisons are now not being made to players like Thomas or Howard and instead, Durant is just looking to show what he can do.

Baserunning and Speed: With his size - 6' 5" and 230 pounds - no one will blame you if you assume that Durant is somewhat slow, but you would be wrong. While he doesn't have great speed, he's very athletic and moves well. He's also got above average baserunning instincts and won't run into many outs.

Defense: One of the big concerns about Durant was his defense. In a perfect world, Durant would be able to serve as a DH and the Phillies have used him in that spot for a good chunk of his time in the minors. In fact, in 2006, they had him spend a good chunk of his time as a DH so he could work on his offense. The good news is that Durant's defense hasn't been as bad as most thought it might be, but he's not a sure thing at first. If you think back, there were concerns about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley defensively when they were drafted and the Phillies were able to turn both of them into legitimate defensive players and should be able to do the same with Durant.

Projection: It really is legitimate to keep in mind that Durant is still very young and raw. Ideally, he would have moved a little faster than he has, but it's very possible that he'll be the type of player that suddenly finds a way to make everything click and can move quickly up the ladder. If Durant doesn't make it, it won't be because he hasn't put in the work or came in with an attitude that prevented him from succeeding. The upcoming season is going to be interesting for Durant. With a good spring, he'll start the year at Lakewood and it will be interesting to watch him over a full season and see what kind of strides he can make in a full-season league. The Phillies could decide that he needs more work in extended camp and will then send him back to Williamsport or give him an occasional shot in Lakewood if they have injuries there.

What else you should know about Michael Durant:

  • Durant had signed a letter of intent to attend Fresno State University, but elected to sign with the Phillies.
  • Jimmy Rollins encouraged Durant to attend a Phillies workout prior to the 2005 Draft.

Michael Durant's career stats

2005 GCL Phillies 6 22 .190 39 126 21 24 4 0 3 16 56 .301 .365
2006 GCL Phillies 0 2 .226 11 31 3 7 2 0 2 3 14 .333 .290
2007 Williamsport 5 23 .236 52 178 19 42 8 0 0 14 69 .301 .365
Minor League Totals - 3 Season(s) 11 47 .218 102 335 43 73 14 0 5 33 139 .304 .358

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