By Jeff Louderback
Once a top prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization, 30-year-old right-hander J.D. Durbin‘s 13-year professional baseball career has included stops in the minors, two brief stints in the majors, stays in Japan and Mexico and two seasons with the independent league Lancaster Barnstormers. The Twins second round pick out of high school in 2000 will get another chance to play affiliated baseball after signing a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
There was a time when Durbin appeared on the fast track to the majors in the Twins organization. He was named Minnesota’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2002 when he was 13-4 with a 3.19 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 161 innings at low Single-A Quad Cities in the Midwest League. The next season, he started the advanced Single-A Florida State League All-Star Game and was 15-5 with a 3.12 ERA between Ft. Myers and Double-A New Britain.
Injuries derailed Durbin over the next few seasons. To date, he has only appeared in 23 Major League games (including 11 starts). In 2004, Durbin posted a 7.36 ERA in four outings with the Twins. He appeared in 19 games (10 starts) between Arizona and Philadelphia in 2007, logging a 6-5 record and a 6.06 ERA.
Durbin has not been part of affiliated baseball since 2009, when he was 2-9 with a 4.16 ERA between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. Since then, he has pitched in Japan, Mexico and the independent Atlantic League. In 2012, He was 14-9 with a 4.48 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 28 starts and 181 innings at Lancaster in the Atlantic League.
With the Red Sox featuring talented depth in the bullpen at the Major League level and at Triple-A Pawtucket, Durbin’s best chance to stick in the organization is perhaps at Double-A Portland. His minor league contract does not include an invitation to spring training, so he is a longshot to remain with the organization when the regular season begins.