Duran eyes big league opportunity

German Duran recently wrapped up a successful Arizona Fall League campaign, as he batted .281 with two home runs while splitting his time between second base, shortstop, and third base. Lone Star Dugout caught up with the prospect for a Q&A session on Wednesday evening.

Infielder German Duran enjoyed a breakout season with Double-A Frisco in 2007, as he batted .300 with 22 home runs in just his second full season of professional baseball. The performance earned the 23-year-old a trip to the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, where he hit .281 with two home runs in 18 games.

Lone Star Dugout was recently able to catch up with the 5-foot-10 infielder, who could begin next season on the Rangers' 25-man roster.

Jason Cole: Are you still in Arizona right now?

German Duran: No, I flew back last Thursday because I had to come to a funeral on Saturday. I've been home for about four days now.

Cole: Are you going back out there?

Duran: I talked to the manager and he wanted me to fly back out for the championship game if we end up being in it. I'm waiting for him to call me. That way I can make arrangements to fly back in on Saturday.

Cole: You got to play 18 games in the Arizona Fall League this year. What were your thoughts on your performance?

Duran: I thought it was a good league; it was a lot of fun. Those pitchers down there have really good stuff. Every guy was 93-97 with sinker, slider. It's a good league. I had a lot of fun and I felt like I did pretty well, especially since I was playing third, short, and second and how late it was in the season. I felt like I played pretty strong and I like that league. It was good competition and it's a good experience to get to meet other players from other teams. And to get to know the competition for the rest of your career.

Cole: You mentioned playing three infield positions. Was that your first time to play at third base?

Duran: Yeah, that was my first time ever.

Cole: What was that like for you? How difficult was it for you to get adjusted there?

Duran: I had been taking ground balls at third base before with Dave [Anderson], who was our manager in Double-A. I felt really comfortable at third base when they put me over there. I felt like I was playing second. The balls were coming a little harder, but I felt just as comfortable as if I were playing second. I liked it over there to be honest with you. I felt comfortable over there and I liked playing over there.

Cole: Having played all three positions now, did you feel one of them was a little bit tougher to get accustomed to?

Duran: I think if you haven't played at shortstop, it's going to be tough to get used to it. But since I had played at short before, it was more repetition – kind of seeing the hops and reading the ball. You can't sit back on a lot of balls at shortstop. It was kind of a big transition to go from another position to shortstop just because at shortstop you pretty much control everything. You have no hesitation time. You have to make a decision as soon as the ball is hit. But to me, I felt like I was pretty comfortable all the way around.

Cole: You walked 11 times in 18 games in the Fall League. That was quite a bit more than you did during the regular season. Was that a focus of yours?

Duran: I don't think it was a focus. I think it was more fatigue. I'm an aggressive hitter, so when I'm fresh, I can hit those 93, 94, 95, 96 MPH sinkers because of my hands. I can hit that and I can put it in play hard. And the strike zone here was a lot better. The strike zone here was a lot smaller so you can actually pick and choose what you can swing at. Don't get me wrong though, with the stuff some of those guys have, sometimes you don't have time to make a decision. But 11 walks – I felt like I was just trying to see the pitches and trying to see the location. I was trying to get one location and if I didn't get it, I was taking. It worked to my advantage. I had more walks than I probably had in about four months.

Cole: What were you working on at the plate while you were with the Surprise Rafters?

Duran: Pitch selection would be one thing – trying to be aggressively selective. I'm trying to see more pitches. A good hitter can hit in any count, but a good hitter can be a great hitter by hitting 2-0, 3-1. I was trying to get to those counts more. It helped out. It helped me out with my pitch selection and my strike zone recognition and my walk totals.

Cole: You mentioned fatigue earlier. After playing so many games with Frisco and now in Arizona, I'm guessing you were feeling it by the end of the season?

Duran: I think my body was worn down. This was only my second full season and in my first full season I only played 114 games because I was hurt most of the time. This year I played 136 and then I go and play another 19, 20 games. And I was in instructional league for a week before. It kind of wears down on your legs a little bit. I think the fatigue factor came in. It wasn't there the whole time, but it's just how you deal with it and how you grind through it. Fatigue was definitely there.

Cole: As you get more experience playing the long seasons, do you expect fatigue will become less of a factor in the future?

Duran: Yeah. I think if I had stayed in baseball rhythm – if the Fall League would have started a week after we were done – I think it would have been a lot different just because I was in baseball mode. Your mentality and everything is still full-speed. If you take two weeks off, you kind of go home and shut it down. All of a sudden you pick it back up and your body is not used to it so you kind of hit a wall again after four or five games. I think after you play more games, your body gets used to it because you get into that baseball mode. Your mind and your body gets used to playing everyday.

Cole: Now that your offseason is just about to begin, what are you going to be doing to prepare for 2008?

Duran: They have told me I'm fighting for that utility job, so right now I'm going to throw baseball aside for a little bit and kind of clear my mind and rest my body. I'm going to get into my heavy workout, my heavy weight training, and I'm going to start my running in the middle of December. I'm going to be getting ready to go back to spring training in the middle of January. It seems like time just flies. Right now I'm just going to be doing a lot of heavy weights and try to get my weight back up to what it was before last spring training.

Cole: Have the Rangers given you any idea as to where you will begin the 2008 season?

Duran: They told me I have a really good chance to make the big league squad as a utility guy out of spring training. I'm going to have to go in and produce and have a good spring training. I've just got to keep doing what I have been doing for the past three years in pro ball. I have got to play hard and they feel I could be up there with them right out of spring training. If not, I can go to Triple-A and work on playing different positions. I think wherever they put me, I'll be happy as long as I'm playing everyday.

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