Matthew Duran is an animal. Playing for the New Rochelle Huguenots, Duran manned third base and shortstop throughout his high schools career, bashing the ball to all fields off of just about any pitcher. For the 2011 season, Duran finished with a .625 batting average, hitting 10 home runs in just over 20 games, an especially incredible feat considering the fact that he's been walked intentionally in at least 20% of his plate appearances. He is a presence at the plate who simply bashes.
I would know, I pitched to him. Late in a game this season I had the opportunity to strike Matt Duran out. As far as my stuff goes, I'm really nothing special. My fastball tops out at 82 from the left side, and while I do mix it well with plenty of good secondaries, I am no All-American, and the strikeout was probably more dumb luck than anything else. Earlier in the game, Duran faced our ace, a 6-foot-2 Princeton bound left-hander who boasts a 87-90 MPH fastball backed by a plus power curve. After taking a fastball and curveball out of the zone, Duran smacked a ground ball down the right field line off of an 88 MPH two seam fastball in on his hands for a double.
In part of my well wishes to Matt for the Yankees organization and my own pride, I'd love to give you guys a little scouting report on Matt Duran:
Duran has played varsity baseball since his Freshman year, and as a frosh hit .470 with 4 home runs, and since then evolved into a 10 HR, .625 hitting senior who instills fear into any pitcher who faces him. He has a full ride to Fordham University right now (and was offered half scholarships to Boston College and Notre Dame), a good attitude about baseball and a fantastic work ethic. In terms of his tools:
Hitting: Duran has a quick, level bat that explodes through the zone quickly, keeping the barrel in the strike zone for an extremely long time. He gets the barrel on any pitch, no matter where it is, and keeps his swing short and compact. He has impeccable timing, able to tee off on 60 MPH curveballs in addition to 90 MPH fastballs, a true testament to his contact and timing ability. Throw the ball away and he takes it to right center, throw one in and he's bound to take it over the left field fence. At the very least, his maturity, hands and pop at the dish indicate that he should hit .270 at the least at an appriopriate professional level, with a very high ceiling in this regard.
Power: Despite the fact that he is not a hulking figure, Duran has plus power by anyone's standards He is solidly built and has enough power to take one out of a Major League ballpark in any direction. One youtube search of Duran shows a plethora of long balls to all fields. That being said, he isn't likely to add much more than 20 pounds of muscle from where he is already, and he's not one to hit 500 foot bombs a la Bryce Harper. His level swing also precludes a more long-ball oriented approach at the dish. His ceiling is a 30 homer player still, which is nothing to scoff at.
Speed: Duran isn't slow. Anyone who's seen him run the bases or play the field will attest to that. He is agile on his feet and capable of manning the infield without embarassing himself. He may even beat out an infield hit or two. That being said, at higher levels speed is not likely to be a huge asset for Duran, who may even come to be below average for an infielder if he gains a few more pounds. While listed at 3B, he has spent time at 1B, corner OF and SS in high school, and his speed will determine which of these positions he'll end up at in the pros.
Glove: Duran is sure handed, able to pick balls at first as well as in the holes at third. In the infield and outfield he covers ample ground, although middle infield may elude his abilities at higher levels due to his lack of blazing speed. He makes a quick transfer from glove to hand. Duran's biggest downfall in the infield to date is his footwork. Playing at short, turning double plays seemed laborious when he attempted them, and while he was successful he was not graceful by any means, and at third his footwork was mediocre at best as well. With time and practice at higher levels, Duran should get the hang of it.
Arm: Duran has an above average arm with good throwing mechanics that is good enough to stick at any position.
Overall, Duran's offensive potential is enough to have him stick at any position, and he has the athleticism to learn t position well. The only question (besides performance, obviously) is how his speed develops as he gets bigger.
Be excited about this kid.