Braves NRI In-Depth: Luis Durango

The Braves may have lost on-base guru and speedster Antoan Richardson as a minor league free agent this off-season, but they signed someone just as good in Luis Durango. If getting on and getting over is all you want in a player, then Durango fits the bill. He's a short, wirey, center fielder with speed and a good eye at the plate, and that's it.

In seven minor league seasons Durango has a .312 batting average and a.403 on-base percentage. He's collected more walks than strikeouts in those seven years, of course he's had more sacrifice hits than doubles, so you can clearly see that he's a small-ball player with little to no power. Durango is from Panama, and he played in the winter league down there this year with similar results -- .429 on-base percentage.

For such a one-dimensional guy, he's managed to accumulate Major League service time in each of the last three years, first with the Padres in '09 and '10, and then with Houston after a waiver claim in late June 2011. In a curious twist of fate, Durango replaced Michael Bourn in center field for the Astros in the two games immediately after Bourn was traded to Atlanta.

Durango's addition to the Braves will likely make him the fastest player in the organization. He can fly, he's getting better at stealing bases, he works the count, and he keeps the ball on the ground which allows him to use his speed to get to first. The Braves already have someone like this on their 40-man roster -- Jose Constanza -- so Durango will likely be behind him on the depth chart. But as we saw last year the Braves like these little scrappy guys, so it's not out of the question that Durango could find his way to Atlanta at some point during the year.

One thing Durango has going for him over Constanza is more extended Major League player time, and more experience pinch hitting -- with better results. He's also younger than Constanza by two years, and he's a switch hitter, while Constanza only bats lefty. If the Braves are going to use a 25-man spot on a backup center fielder, then it could be a good battle in spring training between Durango and Constanza.

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