Will Travis d'Arnaud's Injury History Prevent Him from Ever Being a Mets Star?
New York Mets catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, centerpiece of the offseason deal that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, was injured in a Triple-A game on Wednesday night.
According to the New York Daily News, d'Arnaud suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left foot. The injury occurred when a foul ball struck his foot while catching in the sixth inning of Las Vegas' game.
While d'Arnaud wasn't expected to join the Mets imminently, his progression, maturity and, most importantly, health were being closely examined as he prepared to unseat John Buck as the everyday major league catcher at some point this summer.
Despite high expectations and the talent to become a perennial All-Star, d'Arnaud, 24, is now becoming a yearly injury concern. If this foot injury, which has him on his way to New York for an appointment with team doctors in New York at the Hospital for Special Surgery, substantially halts his 2013, the concerns will only grow about his future.
Of course, injuries happen in baseball. While a foul ball off the foot of a catcher seems innocuous, there is a trend developing for this young catcher.
Heading into 2013, d'Arnaud seemed to pile up accolades, including the 2011 Eastern League (Double-A) MVP, at a quicker pace than games played. Due to a variety of injuries—bulging discs in 2010, torn PCL in 2012—he averaged less than 85 games played per year over the last three seasons.
Travis d'Arnaud averaged 84 games the last three years. I'm starting to sense a pattern here.— Tim Marchman (@timmarchman) April 18, 2013
Back injuries to catchers can be very, very troublesome, but that issue has seemingly passed since 2010.
Knee injuries to catchers can be very, very troublesome, but that issue seemingly passed since he worked his way through Spring Training in great health and shape this year for the Mets organization.
Foot injuries to catchers can be very, very troublesome. Until doctors diagnose the injury further and prescribe the proper treatment, it's hard to assess how worried Met fans should be.
As New York attempts to rebuild and become a true contender in 2014 and beyond, d'Arnaud's ability as a middle-of-the-order hitting catcher is crucial to its success. Right now, it's easy to break down his past and present: Highly touted prospect, growing by the year as a big-time bat, but with an injury history.
The future is hard to diagnose. If d'Arnaud can stay healthy, there's little to suggest that he won't become the star that he's been pegged as during his time in the Philadelphia, Toronto and New York organizations. If he can't, or becomes limited due to a banged-up body, New York is in a difficult position.
John Buck is off to a sizzling start in New York. His production actually elicited manager Terry Collins to suggest using Buck at first base and d'Arnaud at catcher if and when the young catcher is ready to come up from Triple-A. Of course, that's now on hold.
As it should be with the 'Buck for MVP' campaign gaining steam in New York. The hot start for the veteran catcher gives the Mets flexibility, an excuse to keep d'Arnaud in Triple-A early this season, thus avoiding his arbitration clock. But that doesn't mean New York has a long-term answer at the position if d'Arnaud is limited in the future.
Make no mistake: Buck is having a great April, but the future of the Mets lineup and battery mate to Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler is d'Arnaud.
The bulging discs, PCL tear and fractured foot are all different, unique injuries. They may be bad luck, coincidence or a combination of both. Yet they've all cost d'Arnaud valuable at-bats in his development. If they continue, expect the label of "injury prone" to be placed upon one of the best prospects in baseball.
Will Travis d'Arnaud become an All-Star catcher for the New York Mets?
As of right now, the National League doesn't have a DH. When New York makes the call to bring d'Arnaud to the show, he will have to catch almost every day to maximize his value and further justify the R.A. Dickey deal.
Star potential is certainly there, but the concerns of durability are growing and clouding the future of a talented player.
Should the Mets be concerned about Travis d'Arnaud's future? Comment below, follow me on Twitter or "Llke" my Facebook page to talk all things baseball!
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