Could this rising prospect be the next late bloomer for KC Royals?

Freddy Fermin's path to The Show took longer than expected. Could Rodolfo Durán follow in his footsteps?
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Earlier this season, I tried to catch as many KC Royals affiliate games as I could. There were quality prospects scattered across all levels, but I first focused on the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals. That was my introduction to catcher Rodolfo Durán.

The Naturals boasted some top Royals prospects at the season's start, namely outfielder Gavin Cross and third baseman Cayden Wallace. But it was Durán who commanded attention whenever he was in play. I knew nothing about him, beyond being a non-roster invitee to Kansas City's spring training camp. But inviting any experienced catcher to a big-league camp isn't unusual. The Royals demoted Durán in early March, so I thought nothing of his long-term prospects.

The KC Royals depth behind the dish grows stronger and stronger.

Durán changed my mind, though. He won me over right away with his strong arm behind the plate and tremendous swing. This is the primary reason why his recent promotion to Triple-A Omaha was both exciting and inspiring. Kansas City did move on from Logan Porter, another fan favorite, but I believe Durán and he will draw similar fan passion as the 2024 season goes along.

The Dominican Republic native is currently with his third organization after spending the last two years with the New York Yankees organization (2022–23) and the previous seven years with the Philadelphia Phillies (2015–21). Signing as a minor-league free agent after spending so long with other organizations is rarely a good thing. It does prove a player's perseverance and trusted talent are worthy enough for another chance.

Durán started 2024 red hot and began burning blue once June hit. He appeared in 42 games for the Naturals and hit .299 with 8 HR, 31 RBI, and a .902 OPS, then hit .390 with 12 RBI over 10 games in June with Northwest Arkansas. His no-doubter on June 13 sealed the deal for Kansas City to promote Durán this weekend.

With Austin Nola's promotion and the Porter trade, a catcher's promotion to Triple-A felt inevitable. However, Durán's performance so far makes him an ideal candidate to stick in Omaha. Players exceeding expectations is one thing, but there is another factor, named Freddy Fermin, in Durán's 2024 that is even more interesting.

How are Durán and Fermin similar?

Fermin was a late-blooming catcher in Kansas City who parlayed his 2022 debut into a strong 2023 season. The Venezuelan native was 27 when he made his MLB debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, far later than most. However, he carved out a role-player niche in 2023 and is again surpassing expectations in 2024. If you look at Fermin's age-26 season, spent mostly at Double-A, the similarities between him and Durán are uncanny.

Age 26 in AA






Freddy Fermin (2021)






Rodolfo Durán (2024)






Fermin had several other milestones in store, including being named Most Valuable Player of the 2022–23 Venezuelan Winter League. But Durán similarly has a potent bat and a strong arm behind the plate. According to Omaha broadcaster Nicholas Badders, between 2015 and 2023, Durán had a 36.3% success rate (139 of 383 attempts) in catching runners stealing and was over 40% in 3 straight seasons (2017 to 2019). 

The similarities are hard to ignore, even if Durán's and Fermin's time spent in Kansas City is vastly different. Royals fans should keep tabs on Durán's performance in Omaha, especially if Nola struggles and Salvador Perez plays more first base down the stretch. Kansas City is also looking for a backup option, bridging from Fermin to, hopefully, one of Blake Mitchell or Carter Jensen. Durán could factor into that process and play an undervalued role, like Fermin does now in Kansas City.

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