Phillies Prospect #36: Michael Durant

Last summer, fans in Lakewood got to see the start of what could become a powerful and highly ranked prospect for the Phillies. Michael Durant is putting all of his tools together and starting to produce the way the Phillies had hoped.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round of the 2005 Draft.
Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6' 5"   Weight: 230 lbs
Birth Date: January 2, 1987
2008 Team(s): Lakewood
Position/Games: 1B (61), DH (45)
School: Berkeley High School
2008 Ranking: 54

Why Durant jumped to 36: Michael Durant finally started to show some of the offensive firepower that he had hidden in his first couple seasons in the minors and he did it during his first year in a full-season league. While his average and on-base percentage are still lower than where they will need to be for him to be successful, Durant improved his walk numbers and cut down slightly on his strikeout rate in 2008, both of which are very good signs. For a young hitter with lots of power potential, he's more than just a guy who steps to the plate thinking home run or nothing; he's developing some good habits and just needs more development to make them stick.

Michael Durant statistical analysis
  First three seasons 2008
G 102 106
AB 335 385
R 43 56
H 73 90
2B 14 23
3B 0 2
RBI 47 67
AB/HR 30.4 22.6
AB/BB 10.1 7.4
AB/KO 2.4 3.0
OBP .304 .331
SLG .358 .436

Batting and Power: It's a bit misleading to look at Durant's 17 home runs for Lakewood and say that his power numbers took a huge jump, since the most he had hit in any previous season was six. When you factor in his total at bats, Durant hit one home run every 30.4 at bats in his first three pro seasons. Last season, that number improved to one every 22.6 at bats, which is definitely an improvement, but not as dramatic as it might seem. Odds are though that with his developing mechanics at the plate, Durant will become the big-time power hitter that the Phillies imagined him to be when they signed him out of Berkeley High School. As for hitting for a higher average, that's going to be more of a chore for Mr. Durant. The hopes of him hitting in the .280 range are likely not going to be realized and he'll have to continue with the hard work that he's already put in so he can lift his average to a respectable .265 range. When all is said and done though, Durant should be a decent hitter, with very good power numbers.

Baserunning and Speed: This is a pretty big guy that we're talking about here and he's not exactly built for speed. What he does have is some athleticism and quickness, so while he's not going to steal a ton of bases, he can swipe one here and there if a pitcher forgets about him. He's also got good instincts and knows his limitations, so he doesn't run himself into many problems on the bases.

Defense: Another area of Durant's game that he's worked very hard on is his defense. While he's not a candidate to win any Gold Gloves down the road, he's shown himself to be adequate at first base defensively, but you can certainly find better first basemen. For now, the Phillies are focused more on building his offensive skills and content to let him show slightly slower development defensively.

Projection: When you have a player that works as hard as Durant and has the approach to learning the game that Durant has, you always have to give him the benefit of the doubt. The tools are all there and they're slowly starting to reveal themselves as Durant continues to develop. Keep in mind, that this is a young player, who just turned 22 and didn't have the benefit of any college ball. When you watch Durant play, you can't help but feel that he's not very far away from putting it all together and bursting at the seems. The Phillies will have a bit of a tough decision to make as to where to send Durant in 2009; they could make a case for getting him a little more work at Lakewood, but the Phillies do tend to challenge young players with promotions even when one isn't clearly called for. Pushing Durant along to Clearwater could make some sense and the Phillies may do just that, depending on how they see him progress in minor league camp.

ETA: Odds are that Durant will continue to develop in 2009 and spend at least a good chunk of the season at Clearwater. The jump to Double-A is the toughest to make for most players and when Durant reaches that level, it's likely that he'll be slowed a little, but ultimately it will be just a hurdle and not a full obstacle. He should reach Triple-A Lehigh Valley by sometime in 2011 and start to get consideration for a major league audition sometime shortly after that. When you figure that he turns 24 early in 2011, there is time to be a little patient with Durant and be sure that he develops properly each step along the way.

Michael Durant's Career Stats

2005 GCL 6 22 .190 39 126 21 24 4 0 3 100 16 56 .301 .365
2006 GCL 0 2 .226 11 31 3 7 2 0 2 67 3 14 .333 .290
2007 Williamsport 5 23 .236 52 178 19 42 8 0 0 - 14 69 .301 .365
2008 Lakewood 17 67 .234 106 385 56 90 23 2 5 83 52 130 .331 .436
TOTALS 28 114 .226 208 720 99 163 37 2 10 83 85 269 .319 .400

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