Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Ezequiel Duran (2B, #27)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with 2B Ezequiel Duran.
Probably the most interesting story about his making it to the Yankees and now has a legitimate prospect, Ezequiel Duran possesses great natural abilities and tools that have helped to elevate him from an afterthought to a potential major leaguer. Originally a shortstop, his arm and quick hands are better suited for second base, where his offensive game also plays much more favorably. Expect good things in 2020 from Duran.
(Screenshot From New York Yankees Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2BqQOgjG04)
Ezequiel Duran, 2B (#27):
Age/Date of Birth: 20 Years Old (05/22/1999)
2019 Team(s): Staten Island Yankees (Short Season Class A)
2019 Statistics: .256/.329/.496 (0.824 OPS), 13 HR, 37 RBIs, 25 Walks, 77 Strikeouts (66 Games, 246 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 5’11”/185 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees as an IFA on July 2nd, 2017
MLB ETA: 2023
Ryder Green Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Ezequiel Duran found his way into the International Free Agency pool two years late because of issues that revolved around the registration process, ending up in his signing as a much older 18 year-old around younger talent. (Exceptions to both Shohei Ohtani and Kevin Maitain who also signed during that period at a later age for much different reasons.) Because of this, there was very little fanfare for the infielder, who ended up signing for only $10,000 on a dream of making a late name for himself. A month after signing, Duran began his first stint with professional ball in the Dominican Summer League where he was quickly moved from shortstop to second base. Duran showed talent while hitting to a triple-slash of .393/.415/.754 (1.169 OPS) along with 3 HR’s and 11 RBI’s in only 15 games. Given his older age, combined with his statistics, this helped Duran quickly move to begin his career in American going into the 2018 season.
Spending the whole season with the Rookie Advanced Pulaski Yankees, this however, was a terrible season for Duran, which is easily seen by his triple-slash of .201/.251/.311, where his .562 OPS ranked third worst in the Appalachian League. Not much else can be said about his 2018 season, as he was now two seasons into his career which looked to be fading as he wasn’t considered a Top-30 prospect in the Yankees system (and failed to make any Top-50 list I could find from reputable sources).
What is incredible is how Duran was still able to find a promotion going to the Staten Island Yankees for the 2019 season, which is where he finally got to make a name for himself. Coming off a bottom-3 offensive season, and starting off the year with a .150 batting average, Duran found his routine and approach which led him to lead the New York-Penn League in Home Runs with 13. Increasing his OPS by .262 over one season helped to propel his name into some second-half Top prospect rankings as a talent that many people where overlooking because of an overaggressive approach he had yet to learn to start to control.
Overall, Ezequiel Duran is one of the more interesting prospects currently in the Yankees system because of the tools he possess and his unfortunate backstory. According to reports, he has one of the best exit velocities in the system which allows him the ability to focus on making contact and not need to focus as much on his fundamentals/movements. Combine this with solid speed (11 successful steals to 4 caught in 2019) and quick hands at second base, its no wonder he has now made consistent appearances on Yankees Top-30 prospect lists.
What Will the Future Hold?
After leading the New York-Penn League in Home Runs, I would expect Duran to start the 2020 season with the Class A Charleston RiverDogs. The Yankees have been aggressive in moving him up the minor league ladder, and while he needs to continue to increase his plate discipline to boost his BA and OBP, I don’t think slowing him down now is a move they will make. I think getting Duran into a more rhythmic season over more than 60-70 games will truly show his potential with his expected ceiling and floor as a ballplayer.
Coming from an unranked IFA to two years being unranked in the Yankees system, Duran’s prospect stock is currently booming. He’s dealt with everything from registration issues to poor performance and seems to have the mental toughness to continue progressing through the ranks. If he continues another good surge in his offensive game (I’m not expecting another OPS jump of over .200) I could see him continuing to move up the ranks, maybe even making it near the top-20 prospects at the end of the season.