Travis D’Arnaud Scouting Report (2009)
In hearing Travis D’Arnaud may be involved in the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee swap, it brought me back to the Lakewood series here in Savannah where D’Arnaud looked like a star in the making. With power to all fields, excellent athleticism behind the plate, and impressive game management skills, he ranked as the best “Sally” positional prospect I saw during the 2009 season.
Physique and Athleticism: Listed at 6’2″, 195 lbs., D’Arnaud has a strong lower half with evenly proportioned upper body. His wide shoulders and size through the quadriceps lead me to believe he should be able to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle without losing too much athleticism.
For a catcher, D’Arnaud’s is an impressive athlete. Not only does he move well enough behind the plate for him to remain at the position, but his fluid load and swing project for more power as he matures. He was the most athletic catcher I have seen come through the “Sally” since Jackson Williams of the San Francisco Giants.
Offense: When able to extend his hands, D’Arnaud shows considerable power to all fields as exemplified by his 52 extra base hits in spite of a BABIP of only .279. After lofting a double off of the right-field wall and then driving a fly ball 395 feed to center field off of his front foot, I tweeted I hadn’t seen such easy power in the “Sally” since watching A’s prospect Chris Carter in 2007 when he was still property of the White Sox. Also impressive was his ability to work deep counts as exemplified by a double-digit pitch walk where he fouled off what seemed to be at least a half dozen pitches.
His lone weakness was exploited by Mets prospect Kyle Allen as who worked him inside with a number of hard fastballs which D’Arnaud was unable to turn and lift. As he adds strength, and continues to work on driving the bat head to inside pitches, I expect to see a number of his doubles become home runs.
Defense: Quick and agile behind the plate, I saw no visible holes in his all-around defensive game. With the Sand Gnats boasting little in terms of speed, D’Arnaud’s arm went relatively untested. Where the young catcher excelled was in his ability to handle his pitching staff. D’Arnaud’s body language and actions demanded respect and he received it from his staff. He was an integral part of Matthew Way dominating for eight scoreless innings and used stellar game management skills to help Heitor Correa fight through five innings of one run baseball. As a former catcher viewing from the stands, I always find myself finding moments where the game is mismanaged behind the plate. With D’Arnaud, this did not happen.
Speed: D’Arnaud is not going to win games with his legs, but he will not cost a team many runs early on in his career either. With the wear and tear of the position seriously cutting into a catchers speed over time, D’Arnaud is at least able to boast average speed at present and could even approach double-digit steals before his speed inevitably diminishes.
At his peak, I would not be surprised to see D’Arnaud surface as a .270-.285 hitter with 18-25 home run power while contributing above average defense and plus game management skills. Among the current catching crop, this would place him in the same company as Geovany Soto, and Miguel Montero who profile as above average regulars, if not occasional all-star calibur players. Select company indeed, but D’Arnaud has the tools and projection to reach those heights. Prospect analysts who regard him as little more than a throw in are seriously undercutting his ability. The Blue Jays gained an excellent prospect.
21 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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