Duran taking on utility role

Finishing with a .300 batting average and 22 home runs, second baseman German Duran had one of the top seasons in the Rangers organization. Lone Star Dugout recently spoke with the 23-year-old about his season and his role in the upcoming Arizona Fall League.

In a season full of outstanding debuts and breakout performances, 23-year-old second baseman German Duran ranked among the best in the Rangers organization in 2007.

The Fort Worth native played the entire season with Double-A Frisco and hit .300 with 22 home runs and 84 runs batted in. He also earned a spot in the Texas League All-Star Game, where he participated in – and won – the league's home run derby.

Now that the season has ended, Duran is at the club's minor league complex in Arizona to work out with the Instructional League. He will join the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League when their season begins on Tuesday, October 9.

Lone Star Dugout recently interviewed the prospect about his current status and his 2007 season with the RoughRiders.

Jason Cole: You mentioned that you were sick. I guess you aren't working out much right now?

German Duran: I worked out for three or four days with my teammates on the Instructional League team and then I got shut down because I have the flu. But I went back out there today, lifted some weights, and hit off the tee a little bit. Besides that, I haven't been able to do much.

Cole: Do you expect to be back at full strength fairly soon?

Duran: Yeah I think I'll be fine by Sunday. It usually takes three or four days before the antibiotics start working. I'm already starting to feel a lot better. I think by Sunday I'll be at a full 100 percent.

Cole: Will you be playing in any Instructional League games before the Arizona Fall League starts up?

Duran: I'm not sure, they haven't really said. For me personally, I might go out and play a couple of games just to get my game speed and all that going again. But I think it's going to be an option if we want to go out there and get some at bats and some live game situations.

Cole: The AFL roster says you're on the taxi squad. Is that true?

Duran: They actually just switched me because Arias is not in it. I think his shoulder is still bothering him. I'm going to be playing everyday. Elvis Andrus is going to be on the taxi squad. I'm going to be an everyday guy now and so is [Chris] Davis.

Cole: Going back to your season with Frisco this year, what were your thoughts?

Duran: I felt like I could have hit .315 or .320 for the year, but I think I dropped off and got a little tired at the end. It's something that happens when you play that many games. There were some times that I just had to go out there and find a way to get a little extra out of it. The pitchers started pitching me a little better and I wasn't getting those fastballs that I could drive every time. They were throwing me a lot of breaking balls. I started making those adjustments at the end and I ended up staying at .300. I was happy with the 22 home runs. I was saying if I had hit 15 home runs this year I'd be fine, but I ended up hitting 22. That's a little better than what I expected and I'll take that. Every year I want to try to get better and this year I went up 15 or 16 points on my average and I hit seven home runs more than I did last year.

Cole: Entering the season, did you think it would be possible for you to hit .300 with over 20 home runs in your first year at the Double-A level?

Duran: I knew coming in that I could hit .300. I've hit .300 all through college and all through summer ball, so there's no reason I shouldn't be able to hit .300. I told myself I think I can go out there and hit .300 and I went out there and showed it. It seemed like at the beginning of the year nobody could get me out. I was taking pitches I needed to be taking and I was hitting pitches I needed to be hitting. I think that's my approach and I think that is one of my strengths. When I set my mind to doing something, I go out and do it because I work my hardest to get to that point. That's what I did and it worked out for me.

Cole: You mentioned getting tired as the season wore on earlier. Do you plan on doing anything different this offseason or during next season to prevent that from happening again?

Duran: I think sometimes your body just hits a wall. I don't think there's anything you can do in the offseason, you've just got to try and work through it. For me I think I could maybe back off the weights at the end. I was still going pretty hard lifting weights, but I don't know how much that was actually affecting me for game time. I would go in at 1 o'clock and lift for two hours and all of a sudden I'm pretty fatigued. I would see the ball great, but I just can't get my hands to it because my body was kind of worn down. A lot of it has to do with your mentality. If you tell yourself you're going to be tired, then you're going to be tired. I felt like I hit a little bit of a wall out there and instead of trying to work through it, I was giving myself excuses for why it was happening. That's something I should not have done and that is something I'll probably do different next year. I'll fight through it, work hard, and grind it out for the last month.

Duran chats with Frisco hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
Cole: What did you work on this year with your hitting coach, Scott Coolbaugh?

Duran: I have a tendency to cut the ball off because I'm really quick to the ball. He was trying to help me use that as a strength instead of a weakness. My strength is that I'm quick to the ball, but I have to stay through the ball. I used to get to the ball and cut it off. The whole time I was working with him, I was trying to get into the hitting position, stay through the ball, and try to drive the ball the other way. I was trying to stay up the middle or the other way because my hands are quick enough to where I can get to that fastball inside. My trouble was that I was trying to pull everything because my hands were quick. I felt like I had to cheat a little bit when I didn't. Me and him got going on some drills to try and hit the ball the other way. That helped me stay through the ball longer and it helped me throughout the year.

Cole: You played some shortstop over the last month of the season at Frisco. Is that something that will continue in the Fall League?

Duran: Yes. I'm actually going to be playing a lot of short and a lot of third. I think they want to turn me into a utility guy. It gives me more playing options and a better chance to get called up to the big leagues. Personally I think it's a great idea because I've played short before and I think I've learned how to play second. Hopefully I can learn the positions the best I can and hopefully when they need somebody, they'll call me up and I can go in there and fill in as a utility guy that can play short, third, or second. I want to get a chance to move up like that.

Cole: Have you played much third base in the past?

Duran: I've played third base before. I think I had played third base just as much as I had played second before this year. Growing up they would put me everywhere. I took some ground balls and stuff when I worked with Dave Anderson at third, but besides that I don't think I've played professional baseball there at all. I think I can get used to it though. I've played short and I learned how to play second, and I think I did alright. I'm going to work to try and perfect third base and I think it's going to be a good idea for me to go out this fall and play three different positions.

Cole: Do you feel you're further ahead right now in one of those positions?

Duran: Not ahead of, but I probably feel more comfortable at second base. It's more sitting back because it is such a short throw sometimes. At short the only trouble I had was trying to control my footwork. I didn't know when to go up on the ball or when to stay back. I think I finally started figuring that out last year. I felt better at short, more comfortable. I think once I start getting those games in, I'll be fine playing anytime anywhere.

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