Travis d’Arnaud #13 – 2013 Top 100
New York Mets
Date of Birth: February 10th, 1989(age 24)
Origin: 1st Round Pick(#37 overall) in 2007 out of Lakewood HS(CA)
Al Skorupa: Travis d’Arnaud is an athletic receiver with soft hands. When I last saw him there were still aspects of his defensive game that needed polish. I still thought he looked like a catcher that pitchers would enjoy throwing to. d’Arnaud has above average bat speed and waits for his pitch to drive. There is some swing and miss here, but I don’t see it becoming a major problem. d’Arnaud takes some big cuts and can be fooled by soft stuff. The tradeoff is well above average power from a backstop. In that same vein, he’s going to hit very well for a catcher even if major league pitching exposes some flaws in his approach. I don’t envision d’Arnaud as a cleanup hitter, but he can hit in the middle of the order. He brings something to the table both at the plate and behind it. When you look around the majors, that’s actually a pretty rare combination. Considering all that he can do, I consider d’Arnaud the top catching prospect in the game.
Conor Dowley: While many have questioned d’Arnaud’s catching ability over the years, I think he just needs more time and polish to become a solid catcher. He has all the athletic tools you look for to be a good receiver, and his pitchers genuinely seem to enjoy working with him. He has some issues in his catch-and-throw techniques, but a strong arm helps him make up for some of that.
Al is right to express concern in d’Arnaud’s swing, however. There is a lot of swing-and-miss there, and it’s a genuine concern. He does have impressive power, but he’s going to strike out. A lot. And it’s going to be ugly at times. But a catcher with OK defense and plus power is still a great asset to have, especially when his pitchers like him.
JD Sussman: It’s a funky swing, but I like what is going on with his hands. They’re nearly in the load from the time he steps in the box until begins his swing. Generally, I don’t see the point of an extensive bat waggle, but it works, it works. I too fear strikeouts will be a concern early on, but he makes enough hard contact to keep his batting average afloat.
Fantasy Outlook by Alex Hume
As any follower of prospects and transactions will have noticed, Travis d’Arnaud has been placed in high regard for much of his minor league career. Few players are traded for not one, but TWO Cy Young Award winners in separate deals before reaching either the Major Leagues or the age of 24. There reason for this, is his apparent value as a future elite all-around catcher – at a historically very thin position. d’Arnaud has a career .286/.342/.474 line in just over 2000 minor league PA from low A to AAA. He has shown significant power for a catcher, with 66 HR and 133 double over that span.
d’Arnaud will most likely start the year in AAA behind the punch-less duo of John Buck and Anthony Recker at the big-league level; however he could easily kick the door in, be backing up Buck by the All-Star Break and earning the starting job down the stretch.
One area of concern for d’Arnaud has been an inability to stay on the field. He has missed time with injuries each of the last three years, being limited to an average of 84 games per year in that span. He could emerge in a couple of years as an elite fantasy catcher in the Brian McCann peak offensive mold, and as a result, should be the first prospect C off the board in all dynasty/keeper leagues, however his career high in games is 126 and if he settles as a 120 game/season catcher, the aggregate totals will prove much less impressive, regardless of the rate.
2013 value: Limited, 2016 value: Potentially MLB’s top catcher.