How Jarren Duran opened a whole new set of eyes with Team USA


The compliments have consistently been pouring in for Jarren Duran. For more than a year, that has been nothing new.

But, thanks to a simple bit of baserunning, one might have now separated itself from the rest of the attaboys.

It came courtesy one of the many positive impressions left during Duran's five-game stretch with Team USA during its recent Olympic qualifier.

Darren Fenster, the Red Sox' minor-league outfielder coordinator and Team USA third base coach, explained the moment in detail during a recent interview with ...

"He’s on first base and Eric Filia hits a rocket base hit, two-hopper to the right fielder," Fenster remembered. "Off the bat nobody even considered going first to third. Jarren is running his ass off as he always does. He only knows one speed of how to play the game. He saw a window with the right fielder who instead of coming up like he was going to throw broke down and fielded like an infielder. Jarren saw that and that was his green light where he was going to challenge the right fielder. He ran right in the guy’s face and the play wasn’t really close at third base

"(Team USA manager) Mike Scioscia, who was reknowned with the Angles for creating an aggressive culture with first and third being huge for him, said that might be the best first to third I’ve ever seen which obviously speaks volumes. … The right fielder probably had the ball 15 feet before Jarren was even at second base. That’s how incredible this was. He was doing things like that and looking for things like that all tournament long.

"In 10 years in the organization he was probably one of the few guys when the ball is put in play you don’t watch the ball you actually watch him because him running is something special. I had the same kind of feeling with Yoan Moncada. I had the same feeling when we were playing against Ronald Acuna. It’s just a different type of getting around the bases. The fact that he actually uses his head and some instincts when he runs puts him on a whole different level."

Duran wasn't alone in leaving his mark, according to Fenster, with fellow Red Sox prospect Triston Casas also making his presence felt.

But it was the 24-year-old outfielder, who finds himself seemingly teetering on the edge of a big-league promotion, who simply dominated. Duran ultimately went 7-for-19 with a double, triple and stolen base.

"He’s such a dynamic player," Fester said. "The fact that he has added the ability to impact the baseball has just added a whole different element of how he can beat you. The speed is game-changing. That’s just part of it. He’s going to be an elite baserunner because not only can he run at an elite level, but he’s always looking for small windows that he can take advantage of something that 99 percent of baserunners aren’t taking advantage of."

The coach added, "The fact that he does play the game so hard, and he does have that elite speed, it’s really a ‘Wow!’ type of player. You had the experienced guys on the team, and the coaching staff had incredible experience, and when you’re around the game a long time a guy like Jarren is going to stick out. He was not the star of the team, but I think he was the best player on the team. We didn’t have a star of the team. The star of the team was the team. That’s what made it such a special experience."

It remains to be seen if Duran will actually be making the trip to Tokyo, with a better than average chance he has entered life as a major leaguer by the time the opening ceremonies take place on July 23.

But, no matter. What transpired during those stretch of games in Florida earlier will offer the kind of impact a couple of innocuous weeks in the minors could never supply.

For Duran, and the coaches who were watching him, it was two weeks they will never forget.

"The very first inning of the first game kind of blew my mind," Fenster said. "We were on U.S. soil before three or four thousand fans and it felt like we were the road team. They were into every pitch from the very pitch of the game like it was the ninth inning of the World Sries. That energy is so foreign to anything we do on the moor league side. Mike Scioscia described it as all five games that we played felt like Game 7’s, and essentially they were because if we stumble in any of those games we’re out. You really feel like every pitch means something. As a coach you talk about that with players but in a 140-game or 162-game season you’re going to have losses that you can recover from but in this environment you couldn’t, and you felt that.

"The experience of playing in five games in that kind of envorment did more for their development than anything you can mirror on the minor league side. From that perspective, it was awesome him."

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports