The Phillies have made trade after trade over the last five years, sending hoards of prospects out to be developed by other organizations in exchange for established veteran pieces. When a franchise sacrifices well regarded players of tomorrow to aid today’s quest for glory, you can’t help but expect some of the kids to blossom into studs and make you pay for discarding them, especially when the prospect exodus reaches Gillick/Amaro altitudes. Strangely, this hasn’t even come close to happening to the Phillies yet. From Josh Outman to Anthony Gose, no former Phillies farm hand (I’m not counting re-treads like Ryan Vogelsong or Travis Blackley, just prospects) has done anything so impressive that we’re daydreaming about them in a Phillies uniform. Certainly, none of them have made their way directly into the flight path of your beloved franchise.
Now, both those things seem like they may happen at once.
Travis d’Arnaud is a New York Met, and while one player a franchise does not make, you’re about to see the young man that was the centerpiece of the Roy Halladay deal (trust me, it was never Kyle Drabek) 19 times a year. Let’s talk about how much that’s going to suck for a minute.
D’Arnaud is a very interesting prospect because he personifies positional scarcity. There’s nothing overwhelmingly impressive about his skill set. The bat grades out as average right now with some room to grow (I’d really like to see him simplify his set-up, especially by ditching the high leg kick) and I’ve had more than one source put a 6 on the power (I’d go 55, but we’re splitting hairs a bit there) thanks to great leverage in the swing and terrific hip roation. That’s a nice little start but it doesn’t scream “franchise altering bat.” Then you factor in d’Arnaud’s ability to catch, catch really well, throw well and that you project his body to stay behind the plate forever and suddenly we’re looking at one of baseball’s most intriguing prospects. Up the middle talent is hard enough to unearth. This is an up the middle player that shows you four average or better tools right now and still has some developing to do.
Yes, d’Arnaud has had injuries left and right. They all seem to be freak occurrences. It’s not something that I’d be overly concerned about at the moment. It’s a possibility that d’Arnaud possesses a fragility as general and well rounded as his skill set. I’d have only minor reservations about acquiring him.
When you head on over to the fangraphs leaderboards to look at catchers who wield an arsenal of skills as deep a d’Arnaud, you’re not going to find anyone who’s worth less than 3 annual WAR. This is a special player who I think is going to make some All Star rosters and maybe accrue some even more prestigious accolades if he has an outlier year or two in his prime. The jump from Triple-A to MLB is jarring, so I don’t expect him to make you jealous right away. But damn if I don’t think Travis d’Arnaud is gonna get sexy on us.