With the New York Mets' spring training underway, one of the names to gather attention is Travis d'Arnaud. Baseball America ranks him to be the #2 prospect in the Mets system, and they have given him the starting job. This shouldn't come as a surprise — the Mets are rebuilding and now is the time for them to let young, MLB-ready players to gain experience. The key for d'Arnaud to succeed is staying healthy.
d'Arnaud's 2012 season ended because of a torn ligament in his knee, only playing 67 games in AAA. He hasn't played anything close to a full season since 2011, where he played for the Double-A New Hampshire FisherCats. In 114 games, he made 466 plate appearances and hit .311/.371/.542 with an ISO of .231 and BABIP of .365. When he's healthy — or anything close to being 100% — he can hit. And the Mets want him to hit.
While d'Arnaud's minor league numbers show that he's been able to hit at an above-average level, that might not necessarily translate to the major leagues and even more so at a pitcher's park like Citi Field. He played at three different minor league levels in 2013, but nothing necessarily conducive to a solid projection for 2014. 23 plate appearances in rookie league and 30 PA in AA are too small of a sample to even build anything from. The number of PA increased when he was in AAA, but 78 PA in 19 games also doesn't seem like it's enough to base any solid opinions on.
The ZiPS projection for 2014 seems to err on the side of caution, should d'Arnaud get injured again this season.
The only logical explanation for him to play 82 games would be because of his injury history and not because of any competition for the starting role. It's likely than Anthony Recker will be the backup, but as for someone who could be the starting catcher? It's all d'Arnaud.
Steamer is a bit more generous with their projection.
A few more games played than the ZiPS projection, but the offensive numbers are a little higher with the exception of BABIP. I wouldn't say that it's not an unreasonable projection, taking into account his injury history and the number of games he's missed in 2012 and 2013. It's definitely something to hope that d'Arnaud can start his first full (barring injury) MLB season with because it's not setting the bar too high for him. And a healthy d'Arnaud is what the Mets need to help the team be competitive in the future.
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Jen Mac Ramos is a contributor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow her on twitter at @jnmcrms.