Not many teams have the ability to replace an everyday player with his conceptual clone, but the Padres could have done just that when Tony Gwynn Jr. went down with an injury. Luis Durango, a 24-year old switch hitter, had been tearing up Triple-A pitching and is starting to see some playing time in the bigs.
During his first stint in Triple-A, Durango adjusted well, keeping his walk rate north of 10%, managing his strikeouts and running all over the basepaths. He stole 34 bases in 423 trips to the plate, though he was thrown out 32% of the time, a rate that will raise some eyebrows. Thanks to a line drive rate of 20%, Durango ended up posting a .300/.378/.325 line, coming in at a wOBA of .329. While he’ll never be an offensive force, as a tablesetter, Durango has his uses.
Unfortunently, we don’t have much of a MLB sample to go on when it comes to Durango. He only have 48 plate appearances this year, and those have been spread over multiple stints and pinch-hit appearances. While a line drive rate of only 2.8% is sad, a consistently good LD% in the minors is a much better indicator.
Could Durango have a place on your roster next year? Possibly, but he needs to receive more playing time. Because of their impressive outfield depth, the Padres have been filling the center field vacancy with a variety of options, Durango being one of them.
When you have wheels like Durango’s (seriously, if you’ve never seen him fly, watch this), you are a threat to be a fantasy stud someday. Keep an eye on him this offseason, and snatch him up if he can steal (pun intended) playing time in San Diego. If you’re in a deeper NL-only keeper league, he’s a solid option to stash away for next year.