Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Travis d’Arnaud struggled upon reaching the big leagues last season and has been unspectacular during spring training. However, he has both the physical tools and the makeup to become an all-star.
At the plate, d’Arnaud has plus-bat speed and opposite-field power, but he often over-swings and is aggressive at pitches outside of the zone. If he can hone down his approach, he has the power and natural hitting ability to be among the best offensive catchers in baseball.
Defensively, d’Arnaud has the ability to change the game drastically as well. Via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler saw the great potential in d’Arnaud’s pitch-framing ability after just a few weeks in the majors. Harvey stated that he felt d’Arnaud had Molina-like qualities behind the plate, while Wheeler said, “when the balls are down, he does something that makes them look like they’re strikes. It’s ridiculous.”
D’Arnaud is also effective at controlling the running game. Baseball Prospectus’ Mark Anderson wrote upon d’Arnaud’s call-up to the big leagues, that he consistently recorded a pop-time of under 2.0 seconds, a very good time that should continue to improve as d’Arnaud works on his footwork.
The two biggest things standing between d’Arnaud and an all-star appearance are his health and his competition around the league.
D’Arnaud has struggled with injuries throughout his minor league career. Despite being a top prospect since being drafted out of high school, he didn’t make his major league debut until his age-24 season. As a rookie, if d’Arnaud misses any amount of time due to injury he will definitely not make the all-star team.
Even if d’Arnaud is healthy and performs like a stud with the bat and the glove, making the team will still be difficult. Players like the St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina and the San Francisco Giants Buster Posey are household names and will almost definitely be on the roster.
Last year, the National League had three catchers on the roster, with former Atlanta Brave Brian McCann as the third choice after Molina and Posey. McCann is now in the American League, so that third catching spot on the roster is up for grabs.
With catcher is a weak position across baseball, and d’Arnaud having elite tools while playing in a big market, a productive first half could propel him to his first all-star appearance.