Those who purchased the 2011 Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide may have had the Pirates Chase d’Arnaud already on their radars. On the Top 90 Prospect list that was included d’Arnaud came in at #44, where I said:
“With Ronny Cedeno as the Pirates shortstop, should it surprise anyone that d’Arnaud makes this list? While he hit just .247 at Double-A, he did have 48 extra base hits and 33 stolen bases. He needs to learn to limit his strikeouts (102 in 530 AB). He was significantly better than that at Single-A in ’09 (72 K in 423 AB between two levels with a .293 average), posting a .398 OBP (compared to a .331 OBP at Double-A). You would have to expect him to rebound and, with the Pirates trying to get younger, he should get a chance once he settles down.”
He clearly looked good enough at Triple-A this season, hitting .280 with 4 HR, 33 RBI, 39 R and 17 SB (in 20 attempts). In 239 AB he struck out 42 times, a strikeout rate of 17.57%, a solid rate. You would like to see him drawing a few more walks (20 BB, good for a BB% of 7.72%), but it’s possible he’s perfectly suited for the second spot in the Pirates lineup.
That’s where he has settled in early on, going 3-12 with 1 R and 1 K (through his first three games). Interestingly enough, he has been playing 3B and could be the new fixture there until Pedro Alvarez returns to the lineup (whenever that is). Even when that happens, he easily could unseat Ronny Cedeno at shortstop, who is currently hitting just .238. In other words, if he performs he is going to get regular playing time.
He is not going to be a major power threat, which is going to limit his fantasy appeal. Still, with his speed he easily could be viable in deeper formats, especially if he can get himself on base like he did back in ’09. Of course, considering that he hasn’t been able to do it in Double-A (.331) or Triple-A (.347), can we truly expect that to happen?
I can see him as a potentially short-term fill-in, but I wouldn’t anticipate him being an elite option any time soon. If he wants to stick in the second spot of the lineup he needs to be able to limit his strikeouts and be more patient at the plate.
It’s unfair to expect him to get there overnight, though the Pirates have thrown him right into the fire. Part of that is extremely telling of the state of their lineup, being forced to use Cedeno (seventh in the order) and the likes of Michael McKenry (eighth in the order). There’s no way you are hitting d’Arnaud in the middle of the lineup, so they truly are left little other choice.
Hopefully the experience helps him mature quickly, and he can reach his potential in 2011. He’s worth monitoring for sure, but outside of NL-only formats, think of him as more of a band aid for now.
What are your thoughts of d’Arnaud? Do you think he could be a viable option? What are you expecting from him in 2011?