Travis d’Arnaud

Photo ref used.

Photo ref used.

I’m getting into full swing now with my baseball posts. What I’m going to do is go over the Mets, position by position, including a drawing of that player. First off is the catcher position:  

Back in December 2012 the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for two Minor Leaguers – d’Arnaud, a catcher, and pitcher Noah Syndergaard. It was a bold move by general manager Sandy Alderson, especially since Dickey had just won the National League Cy Young Award. But it was a move borne out of need – the team had a catching corps of Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas and later, Kelly Shoppach. Rob Johnson also had some at-bats. It was a grim scene, offensively. d’Arnaud flashed power potential in the Minors and that’s what they brought him over for.

It looks like now d’Arnaud is flashing that potential again after an injury shortened 2013 season that saw him hit .202 and then an early part of the 2014 season where he almost seemed to be in competition with Ike Davis to see who could hit worse. Then the best thing that could possibly happen to him did… he got sent down to the Minors to rediscover his hitting stroke. It was a risky move on the part of management… some players, once they’ve struggled in the Majors can’t regain whatever promise they had before even with as much coaching help or Minor League work as they can. Fortunately,  the young catcher rebounded nicely once he returned, finishing the season with 13 homers and a .242 average that is respectable in the light that he was hitting so badly in the spring, Mario Mendoza was calling to give him hitting advice. He finished seventh in the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year voting, which was good given his awful beginning.

The thing that I like about what d’Arnaud did was that he still worked hard despite his early hitting woes. While he’s not the the best at handling pitches yet (9 errors is a fairly high amount, though he did better than Yan Gomes and Miguel Montero. He threw out 19% of would-be basestealers, which means he still needs to work on his footwork. What did impress me was that he picked up very quickly on the new rule that governed tags at home plate – he instinctively knew how long to give a runner a lane toward the plate before tagging him out. That was a good thing, since the new rule was one that gave a lot of teams headaches during the course of the season.

d’Arnaud is still young, but he’s starting to get on the older side, especially when it comes to catchers. He’ll be 26 when Spring Training starts and 2015 is the year that he’s going to definitely have to bust out, which a lot of prognosticators seem to think that he will. Having the Citi Field fences even closer will help his right-hand hitting homer stroke. Pro baseball is tough, though. He can’t afford another slow start, since the team has another promising backstop, Kevin Plawecki, right behind him in the Minors. Often, there’s another one right behind you.

While many people think that Syndergaard will be the true jewel of that Dickey deal, if d’Arnaud harnesses his true potential, then it could be one of the best trades ever in Mets history.

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