While New York Mets fans are thrilled with their new catcher, most fans around the country are less familiar with the name of top prospect Travis D’Arnaud. Fantasy baseball advocates are excited about the potential bargain that they may score with D’Arnaud on draft day. The anticipation surrounding this long-established prospect will finally translate into tangible numbers in 2013.
D’Arnaud was drafted all the way back in 2007, and entered the radar of baseball experts soon after. He was valued enough to be one of the major pieces moved from the Philadelphia Philles to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 blockbuster trade for Roy Halladay. D’Arnaud continued to impress, and climbed through the organizational ranking before becoming the centerpiece of the Mets and Blue Jays’ swap for reigning Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey
D’Arnaud has already compiled an impressive baseball resume without even recording his first MLB at-bat. Unfortunately, we have seen countless top prospects float between organizations as hopes and expectations build, only to fall short at the major league level. Mets fans have become familiar with this trend over the years with failed prospects such as Alex Escobar, Paul Wilson, Lastings Milledge and Fernando Martinez to name a few off a very long list.
The hope around the Mets organization is not that D’Arnaud will be the superstar that saves their franchise, but rather serve an integral part in their rebuilding efforts toward a bright future. Adding a promising, young catcher is a welcome addition for the Mets, who are in the process of reinventing the core of their ballclub.
While D’Arnaud won’t be the second-coming of Mike Piazza, he has many redeeming qualities and skills that have made him so highly-regarded over the years. D’Arnaud is widely recognized as the top catching prospect and one of the best overall prospects in the game. He rated as the 17th best prospect entering the 2012 season, according to Baseball America.
At the age of 23, D’Arnaud spent his first season in AAA, accumulating a .333 average with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs before suffering a torn PCL. He also threw out 30% of base stealers last season and has received several accolades for his defensive prowess over his minor-league career.
The one concern about D’Arnaud offensively is his strikeout/walk rate. During his six years in the minors, D’Arnaud has struck out 359 times and walked just 140 times. While he may be a candidate for 100+ strikeouts, D’Arnaud has managed to hit better than .310 in each of the last two seasons, allowing him to maintain a respectable OBP.
Fantasy owners should feel comfortable drafting D’Arnaud in the late rounds as a backup catcher with upside. He has a solid chance to break spring training with the major league club and be their platoon starter along with John Buck. Either way, he will be in Queens by the end of the April.
In his rookie season, D’Arnaud can be projected to appear in 115 games, bat .295 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs.