It’s pretty clear to me that Luis Durango isn’t going to be a suitable starter in the majors.
He’s 24 years old, has no power whatsoever, and just isn’t quite good enough at small ball to make up for the terrible power.
That doesn’t mean he’s useless, by any means, though: he certainly is a useful pinch-runner/defensive replacement who won’t kill you getting some spot starts in center field.
Thankfully, Durango likely won’t have to be overextended in the majors, thanks to the presence of Cedric Hunter.
Hunter ranked as the Padres’ best prospect after 2006, but he had fallen to afterthought status after a terrible .625 OPS in Double-A last year.
Well, as I mentioned a few days ago, his .308/.375/.423 line upon repeating the level was good enough for Hunter, still just 22, to earn a promotion to Triple-A.
He’s gotten off to a tremendous start there, hitting .471/.526/.588 through five games.
Hunter is a similar player to Durango in that he doesn’t wow you with power, but he holds several advantages over Durango.
1.) He’s two years younger and at the same level.
2.) He makes better contact (just 23 K this year compared to 39 for Durango).
3.) He walks more (33 to 28).
4.) He has enough power to keep pitchers honest (.114 ISO to Durango’s .031).
Durango is faster and a better defender, but Hunter’s no slouch in those areas himself. He gets on base a lot and constantly puts the ball in play, which is what you want to see from a top-of-the-order hitter. The big difference between Hunter and Durango is that since Hunter’s got doubles pop, major league pitchers can’t just throw the ball right down the middle to him, meaning he’s more likely to sustain his walk rate in the majors than Durango.
Hunter really is on the rise, and in a year where Wynn Pelzer, Logan Forsythe, James Darnell, Beamer Weems, Donavan Tate, and Dexter Carter (among others) have taken steps back, it’s good that someone’s stepping forward. Hopefully Hunter becomes the Padres center fielder and Durango becomes his able backup.