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Your Random D-Back: J.D. Durbin

The Real Deal.

Twins Photo Day Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Real Deal?

When people have too much self-confidence, it becomes either funny or annoying. In soccer there are great examples of both.

In the US you guys had Zlatan Ibrahimovic running around for a while. Too much self-confidence on the pitch, clearly demonstrated by his goals, but also outside. Many examples of cocky but funny interviews, like the one at Jimmy Kimmel, and witty comments. It’s probably both an act and the way the player really is, but it is funny, and, most important, it works. Everybody loves the guy. Aaron Judge could be this man, although he isn’t really arrogant.

On the other hand you have Jose Mourinho. Just look at the man. He is always angry. He thinks he is the best and is not afraid to say it. He has been very successful as a coach and went by the nickname “the special one”. It worked, until it stopped working. Now, everyone hates the guy. Bryce Harper is definitely on his way to become this man.

It is good to have self-confidence and there is no problem in displaying it, but to adopt a name like the “Real Deal” as a prospect, like today’s random D-Back J.D. Durbin, seems weird. Why do your buddies start calling you like that and why do you like that you are called like that, when still just a prospect.

“I’m a 24 yr. old pisces that enjoys having fun. I deff. do not like negative people. I am all about having fun and nooooo drama. I love going out on the town as well as staying in with my baby boy ‘HOSS [his dog, DBE].’” - quoting from J.D. Durbin’s MySpace page in 2007, called titsandassforme.”

Real Deal.

Oregon-born, in 2000 J.D. Durbin (J.D. = Joseph Durbin, making J.D. Durbin technically Joseph Durbin Durbin) is drafted at #54 by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the MLB draft out of Coronado High School in Scottsdale. He signs for a bit over $700,000 and would become that year’s 2nd highest pick for the Twins as two draftees before him would end up not signing with the team. He appears in just 2 games for the GCL Twins that year, after signing late, but not without leaving some kind of an impact.

“Durbin, 23, acquired the nickname “Real Deal” just minutes after his professional baseball career began. Proudly returning to the dugout after a successful first inning in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Durbin turned to a teammate and said, “See, I told you I was the real deal.”” - storytelling on in 2005 on how Durbin got his nickname

Cocky or not, Durbin is considered a prospect. By the start of the 2001 season Baseball America ranks him #28 in the Twins’ farm. The right-handed pitcher enjoys a successful start in the Rookie leagues with a miniscule 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings, but his season is cut short because of an injury. It doesn’t hurt his stock though: the following year he wins the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, in 2002, and by 2003 he is considered a top 10 prospect in the Twins farm system.

At the beginning of the 2004 season, he is considered the team’s best pitching prospect and he hits Baseball America’s top 100 at #66. With the jump to AA his K/BB has taken a blow, but the rest of the peripherals and a 95 mph fastball maintain prospect watchers’ convictions of Durbin being starter potential at the highest level. In 2004 he has a decent showing in the Arizona Fall League, but, more importantly, as a September call-up out of AAA he makes his debut for the Minnesota Twins. After 3 good relief appearances his final appearance that season goes terribly wrong when young Durbin struggles with his command and gives up 5 runs against the (then) Indians in his first start ever at the highest level.

Not the Real Deal.

Starting 2005 Durbin hopes to make the team out of Spring Training, but he knows that will be a difficult task. Not only does he need to convince the coaching staff of his pitching qualities, but there might be some issues with his personality as well.

“I’m a loud person myself, as long as he doesn’t irritate the person around him and kind of bother people with some of his stuff.” - Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire quoted on J.D. Durbin on in 2005

“At the encouragement of the coaching staff, veterans Torii Hunter and Joe Mays each pulled Durbin aside last spring and told him, well, to shut up.” - storytelling on the Twins’ reaction to the presence of J.D. Durbin in Spring Training on in 2005

Durbin doesn’t make the major league team in 2005 and starts in AAA in Rochester. Durbin struggles with his control and his K/BB ratio drops to a 1.76. The player is hampered by injuries, and those become even worse in 2006.

“He continues to experience tingling in his forearm, and he could have permanent damage. The injury happened while he was sleeping during a road trip last season. He woke up with his arm hanging off the bed. His arm was numb. For the next two months, he couldn’t even ‘lift a three-pound dumbbell,’ he said.” - storytelling on Durbin’s injuries in a piece on in 2007

Durbin is a late cut from the Twins in Spring Training in 2007 and he is put on waivers. That is where the Diamondbacks pick him up on March 29. While no one really knows why and what, Durbin is added immediately to the 40-man roster, the bullpen and makes his debut for the D-Backs on April 4 at Coors Field.

As a reliever he enters the game in the 8th inning, with the Diamondbacks trailing 4-2. There is footage of his appearance on YouTube that I am free to share here, so lay back for 25 minutos of pure agony. If this doesn’t break a pitcher at the highest level, I don’t know what will.

“I don’t know, something about the big leagues... I just don’t feel comfortable, and it shouldn’t be that way. It should be the most exciting time and it’s not.” - JD Durbin quoted on in 2007 after his Diamondbacks’ debut

It definitely wasn’t an exciting time for Durbin, because just a few hours after his record-setting 97.50 ERA performance he is DFAd.

Surprisingly, just a few days later he is claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox thus limiting his time in the Diamondbacks’ organisation to just 10 days.

The Red Sox try to push Durbin through waivers themselves, but they suprisingly lose him immediately to the Phillies, for who he ends up making, even more surprisingly, 18 games. He pitches 64.2 innings for them, achieving a 5.15 ERA with a 1.08 K/BB ratio.

J.D. is by now more of an AA pitcher, where he spends the bulk of his time in 2008 and 2009 in both the Phillies’ and Dodgers’ organisations. In 2011 and 2012 he pitches underwhelmingly in the Independent leagues, but also adds a couple of very unsuccessful stints in Japan and Mexico in between. After a brief and bad return to Mexico in 2014 he hangs up the cleats.

A different Real Deal.

What J.D. Durbin does exactly between 2014 and 2022 isn’t clear to me, but it looks that he starts his own property renovation and selling business called...Real Deal Properties. Apparently it is still active in Scottsdale, Gilbert or somewhere around there, so keep your eyes out to catch a glimpse of J.D.

It must be an interesting guy to meet, but just like in the baseball world I have a feeling he hasn’t made that many friends in his personal life either, if I can conclude that from some comments that were published on his blog he inaugurated in 2005 and that he maintained for a couple of months.

And while it is pretty off-topic, I just wanted to share a couple of the comments placed there because they are just too juicy and funny.

“Hows Trisha doing??? Were rockin her world just as often as the hitters are rockin your world.. That’s pretty often.. Have better luck next start”

“Hi J.D. could you have your mother contact me please…”


“J.D., you were, are, and always will be a midget with a ego the size of china. Too bad your skills in the bed and on the field are lacking… I enjoy watching you get lit up every time you take the mound and hope that you crash your denali. You are the biggest ********* I have ever met. Oh, by the way, has your mom kept slutting around with Dante?”