Position: Left-handed Pitcher
Duran is another in a burgeoning crop of Latin arms that will be looking to help bolster a depleted farm system. While he may not have the pedigree or acclaim of many young Dominican pitchers, Duran still warrants attention as a potential sleeper prospect. The Tigers signed Darlyn as an amateur free agent in September 2006 as a 17-year old, and then assigned him to the Dominican Summer League for his professional debut in June 2007.
In his first exposure to truly organized baseball, Duran excelled on the mound for the DSL Tigers, posting a 3-0 record in his first month of action (four relief appearances), with a 1.17 ERA. His strong summer continued as he was moved to the rotation and started seven games throughout July and August, maintaining his perfect record and finishing the season at 7-0. His seven victories tied for fourth most in the league, and he was one of only three pitchers with at least seven wins that did not register a loss on the season.
Despite his small stature, Duran has a promising arsenal that starts with an average fastball that routinely sits in the 88-90 range, and can touch 92 on occasion. He works his fastball to both sides of the plate with some regularity, but he must refine his command to continue taking steps forward. He compliments his fastball with an above-average change-up that he has demonstrated a willingness to throw in any count, to any hitter. He maintains good arm speed and generates good fade to the arm side.
Duran has also shown a curveball that has above-average potential, showing tight spin and good break, but lacking consistency in overall quality. He can throw strikes with all three pitches and will challenge hitters to hit his pitch.
For his age, Darlyn has a good understanding of his craft and understands setting up hitters and working to his strengths and opponents weaknesses. He will need to continue refining his knowledge and study habits to maintain his success once stateside, but given the aptitude he has demonstrated at this early age, it is not expected to become an issue.
The quality of his breaking ball and any gains he can make with his velocity will determine whether Duran becomes a serious left-handed prospect. If he can develop his curveball into a reliable third pitch and fill out his thin frame, he should have a chance to become a prospect of note in the near future.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG R
While his career has been brief, Duran has not suffered any significant injuries. His workload was extremely light in 2007, so he should remain fresh for a heavier workload in 2008.
Duran will come to spring training in Lakeland in 2008, with a chance to make the GCL Tiger pitching staff. His trip stateside is a bit of a surprise as the Tigers have had a tendancy to bring Latin pitchers along more slowly in past years.
Once stateside, I expect Duran to face some significant tests that will quickly determine his prospect fate. If his raw stuff can play well and remain deceptive against more advanced hitters once in the States, he should be able to continue developing into a solid pitching prospect. If his curveball stagnates, or if his control waivers in any fashion, he could be in a world of hurt.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.