Results tagged ‘ Travis d’Arnaud ’
By Brendon Desrochers
We’re barely a week into the season, but let’s take a brief look at which prospects (those ranked in MLB.com club top-20s) are leading statistical categories (through games of Thursday, April 11):
Total Bases, Home Runs, RBIs and Slugging: Mike Zunino (SEA) with 27, 4, 17 and 1.038
Albuquerque’s Scott Van Slyke is the Minors’ leader in total bases with 32 and slugging at 1.143 (and the venerable Mike Hessman leads with five homers), but Zunino, the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect and No. 23 overall, is off to a strong start with three doubles a triple and the four home runs in six games (and he is the Minors overall leader with those 17 RBIs). As noted in the first Fantasy Focus, the Florida product and 2012 Golden Spikes Award winner may not be long for the Minors. His bat may be ready already.
Batting Average and On-base Percentage: Byron Buxton (MIN) at .500 and .565
Van Slyke also leads the Minors in average at .570, but the precocious Buxton, MLB.com’s No. 19 overall prospect, is 10-for-20 with a double, triple, two home runs and two stolen bases in five games. His three walks give him the edge in OBP at .565 (Billy Burns of Potomac leads the Minors among all players at .640). Like Zunino, Buxton too was featured in the first Fantasy Focus, and though the second overall pick from the 2012 Draft won’t turn 20 until December, the potential five-tool center fielder already has Twins fans drooling.
Runs Scored: Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) with 10
His 51s teammate Josh Satin and Tacoma’s Alex Liddi have 11, but it’s still been a strong start for the Minors’ top catching prospect. He’s drawn seven walks and reached base six times via base hit, which has given him the chance to score those 10 runs. With the way John Buck has been hitting for the Mets, though, d’Arnaud may be in Vegas for a few months longer.
Doubles: Maikel Franco (PHI) with 5
Eleven Minor Leaguers share the doubles lead with five, but Clearwater’s Maikel Franco is the only one of the 11 to rank in his organization’s top 20 prospects. The 20-year-old Dominican third baseman is rated 11th in the Phillies organization, and he’s had four doubles in his last three games (plus two homers and seven RBIs in his last two games). Perhaps this is the year that the raw pop Franco’s always showcased in batting practice will consistently make appearances in live action.
Hits: Xavier Avery (BAL) with 13
Avery is three hits behind High Desert’s Kevin Rivers plus Satin and Van Slyke overall, but his start is impressive nonetheless. He has four doubles and two steals to go with the 13 hits and .351 average for Double-A Bowie. The 23-year-old outfielder got into 32 games with the postseason-bound Orioles last year but still qualifies as a prospect and ranks seventh on the Orioles’ list. Avery continues to strike out a bit too much for a player without much power — he has 10 in 37 at-bats — but at least the Atlanta native has shown a consistent ability to draw walks, even earning a free pass in 10.3 percent of 107 plate appearances in Baltimore.
Profar, as we know, is the complete package as a prospect. Despite starting just 6-for-24 with a double, his eight walks show a mature approach and respect from PCL pitchers and managers. How and where Profar becomes a Ranger for good — especially with the big deal Texas just handed Elvis Andrus — is one of the season’s intriguing subplots.
Grossman came to the Astros from Pittsburgh when Wandy Rodriguez was sent north. The outfielder is known almost entirely for his patience. He became the first player since Nick Swisher to have 100 walks and 100 runs scored in a Minor League season when he achieved the feat with Bradenton in 2011. He has more power and less speed than Reggie Willits, but he profiles similarly to the Angels’ fourth outfielder of years past.
Strikeouts: Jared Mitchell (CWS) with 15
Mitchell is another patient hitter, but he hasn’t been able to battle out of deep counts this season as his 5-for-34 (.147) performance and strikeout total indicate. He does have five walks and three steals this season, but Mitchell’s .213 average in 155 at-bats for Charlotte between this season and last is poor. Though it’s early in this season, at age 24, time is running out for Mitchell to live up to his 2009 first-round billing.
Stolen Bases: Cory Spangenberg (SD) with 9
Another first-round pick (No. 10 overall in 2011), the second baseman has enjoyed his time with Lake Elsinore of the California League, batting .323 and stealing those nine bases without being caught. He has three more than you-know-who and has shown he’s completely recovered from the concussions he suffered last season. His speed will play at any level, and his doubles power could work in PETCO Park, even post-reconfiguration.
I am more than halfway through with our Defensive Gems series on MiLB.com. In case you are unfamiliar with it, here is the stock copy we print at the beginning of every edition:
As documentarian Ken Burns noted, baseball is the one game in which the defense — not the offense — possesses the ball. With this in mind, MiLB.com continues its “Defensive Gems” series. Over the next nine weeks, we will feature a top prospect at each position who also happens to be an elite defender. In deciding which players to focus on, six scouting directors were polled and extensive research was conducted…
Here are the five stories of the nine total that are completed: Click on the player’s name to be taken to the story:
|POS||Subjects with story links|
|C||Austin Hedges (SD: A pupil of Brad Ausmus)|
|2B||Carlos Sanchez (CWS: A good defender at three positions)|
|3B||Mike Olt (TEX: A slow-roller expert with soft hands)|
|SS||Francisco Lindor (CLE: A natural ballplayer that is “Cano-ish”)|
|CF||Mason Williams (NYY: A gifted athlete making acrobatic plays)|
Thinking back on the mid-December trade that brought baseball’s No. 6 prospect (catcher Travis d’Arnaud) to a pairing with baseball’s No. 8 prospect (right-hander Zack Wheeler) got me writing. Below I project the 10 best sets of batterymates throughout the Minors this coming season. You’ll see that the hurler-catcher duos cover nine different leagues.
An advisory: Each player’s name, once clicked, will take you to his bio/statistics page. His organizational ranking as a prospect is the “No.” in parentheses. If you have questions about a particular player, ask away in the comment section and I promise to answer. Also let me know if you agree/disagree with the rankings and present your arguments.
- Mets — Triple-A Buffalo (INT): Travis d’Arnaud (No. 1 in system) and RHP Zack Wheeler (No. 2)
- Braves – Triple-A Gwinnett (INT): Chrisitan Bethancourt (No. 2) and RHP Julio Teheran (No. 1)
- Mariners — Triple-A Tacoma (PCL): Mike Zunino (No. 3) and RHP Taijuan Walker (No. 1)
- Phillies: Triple-A Lehigh Valley (INT): Tommy Joseph (No. 3) and RHPs Ethan Martin (No. 2)
- Red Sox: Class A Advanced Salem (CAR) Blake Swihart (No. 9) and LHP Henry Owens (No. 5)
- Padres: Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore (CAL): Austin Hedges (No. 5) and RHP Matt Wisler (No. 8)
- Rockies: Class A Advanced Modesto (CAL): Will Swanner (No. 8) and LHP Tyler Anderson (No. 6)
- Rangers: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach (CAR): Jorge Alfaro (No. 5) and RHP Luke Jackson (No. 13)
- Pirates: Triple-A Indianapolis (INT): Tony Sanchez (No. 16) and RHP Gerrit Cole (No. 1). This omission was pointed out by a thoughtful reader on Twitter.
- Yankees — Double-A Trenton (EAS): Gary Sanchez (No. 1) and RHP Jose A. Ramirez (No. 13)
- Phillies (2): Triple-A Lehigh Valley (INT): Sebastian Valle (No. 8) and RHP Jonathan Pettibone (No. 4)
- Mets (2) Class A Savannah (SAL): Kevin Plawecki (No. 17) and RHP Luis Mateo (No. 9)
- D-backs: Class A Short-Season Missoula (PIO): Stryker Trahan (No. 11) and RHP Ben Eckels (UR)
- Pirates (2): Class A Short-Season Jamestown (NYP): Wyatt Mathisen (No. 10) and RHP Tyler Glasnow (No. 19)
- Brewers: Class A Short-Season Helena (PIO): Clint Coulter (No. 10) and RHP Damien Magnifico (No. 20)
Do you want the good news first, or the bad?
The good news: Travis d’Arnaud hit for .333 in 2012.
The bad news: Travis d’Arnaud threw for .300 in 2012.
Let me explain.
The Toronto Blue Jays office is in a frenzy this week. The instructional league is ending, and logistical stuff is getting done. It’s busy. But one baseball ops staffer took some time with me over the phone this afternoon, and I came away with a couple conclusions about d’Arnaud, the organization’s top-ranked prospect and presumptive catcher of the future.
The first conclusion: d’Arnaud, whom the Jays acquired from the Phils way back in 2009, is one heck of an offensive threat. Even more of a threat at age 23 and in his first Triple-A season than Toronto’s brass could hope for. The righty swinger not only recorded a hit once every three ABs — he also racked up 16 homers and 21 doubles before his season ended prematurely because of a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. (The injury was supposed to cost him eight weeks of action, but he missed the entire second half of the season. I’m told that he is now 100 percent healthy, so don’t read too much into his absence from the Arizona Fall League).
The second conclusion: d’Arnaud, while adept at the plate, is far from a finished product behind it. The front office member I spoke with said d’Arnaud needed to and would, with experience, improve his 1) game-calling, 2) leadership (“taking charge” of a rotation), and 3) throwing consistency.
1) and 2) are hard for me to quantify because I’m not a scout with inside access to the clubhouse in Triple-A Las Vegas, where d’Arnaud spent last season (or the newly-affiliated Triple-A Buffalo, where he will, barring an injury or trade involving incumbent J.P. Arencibia, begin next season.)
3), however, I can at least scratch the surface on. Past scouting reports indicate the backtop’s strength and athleticism. And stats can point to whether he is turning his natural gifts (tools) into measured production (skills). Here are some of those numbers from ’12:
55 games at catcher
.991 fielding percentage
6 passed balls
40 stolen-base attempts against him
28 successful stolen-base attempts
12 failed stolen-base attempts
.300 caught-stealing percentage
There’s that .300 number again. They say that baseball is a game in which you can fail seven times out of 10 and still be considered successful. This refers to hitting, however, not limiting the oppositions running game. So let’s put it this way:
.700 success rate for opposing would-be base stealers
That’s high. For a comparison: High Desert’s John Hicks registered the lowest such rate (.462) among full-season-affiliated catchers who were tested by 40 or more attempts. And three others, Northwest Arkansas’ Manny Pina and Quad Cities’ Casey Rasmus as well as Winston-Salem’s Miguel Gonzalez, recorded sub.-500 rates.
But those guys are the cream of the crop. Allow PROSPECTive to add greater PERspective: Of only Pacific Coast Leaguer catch-and-throwers, a group that includes d’Arnaud, 10 finished this past season with more success nabbing thiefs.
- Anthony Recker — Sacramento — 44 ATT — .523
- Carlos Corporan — Oklahoma City — 63 ATT — .556
- Ryan Budde — Reno — 40 ATT — .575
- Tim Federowicz — Albuquerque — 84 ATT — .607
- Landon Powell — Oklahoma City — 74 ATT — .608
- Cody Clark — Omaha — 54 ATT — .611
- Eli Whiteside — Fresno — 69 ATT — .638
- Dusty Brown — Round Rock — 53 ATT — .642
- Martin Maldonado — Nashville — 40 ATT — .675
- Derek Norris — Sacramento — 57 ATT — .684
- Travis d’Arnaud — Las Vegas — 40 ATT — .700
So what does all this tell us? d’Arnaud was the 11th-hardest catcher to steal from in a 16-team league because of one, or more likely, a combination of factors: His arm is strong but inaccurate, his instincts are off, his pitchers were slow to home plate, he wasn’t “handling” his pitchers.
So the take-away here is not earth-shattering: Like most young catchers (and it should be pointed out that most of the above 10 are not young), d’Arnaud’s bat is well ahead of his glove. Will it catch up? I can only tell you that it likely will. The stats — and intercountry phone conversations — only tell us so much.