The Pittsburgh Pirates are a team who are clearly in a rebuilding mode. They are set to open the season with Ronny Cedeno manning shortstop, he of the .245 career average over 1,713 AB. As if the average wasn’t bad enough, he has a grand total of 31 HR and 32 SB over parts of six seasons. At 28-years old we know what Cedeno is and that’s someone who just isn’t very impressive at the plate.
Enter Chase d’Arnaud who spent all of 2010 at Double-A. His numbers weren’t impressive overall, but he certainly has shown enough since being selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft.
His biggest asset is his speed:
- 2008 – 14 SB in 168 AB
- 2009 – 31 SB in 436 AB
- 2010 – 33 SB in 530 AB
That alone will give him appeal to fantasy owners. While he only had six home runs in 2010, he did have 33 doubles and nine triples, giving us hope that he could eventually develop into a double-digit home run option. While that may not be a huge number, when coupled with his speed it certainly is enough to give him significant fantasy upside.
Where he really struggled in 2010 was his ability to make contact, striking out 102 times in 520 AB (19.25%). Couple that with a .296 BABIP, a low number for someone with 30+ SB potential, and it is understandable why he hit just .245. The BABIP should improve and, if he can learn to make more consistent contact, the 24-year old should easily be able to develop into a .275+ hitter.
Of course, you have to wonder if he can do it? Baseball America, who ranked him as the Pirates tenth best prospect, said:
“His offensive ceiling is as a No. 2 hitter, but he’ll have to make adjustments to reach it. D’Arnaud guesses and strikes out too often. He’s most effective when he doesn’t try to do too much, keeps his hands inside the ball and uses the opposite field.”
Another concern is his defense, having committed 28 errors in 115 games at SS in ’10. That could help slow his progress, but given the direction the Pirates are headed it just appears to be a matter of time.
They are slowly building to compete not in 2011, but beyond. There’s little chance that Cedeno is in the team’s long-term plans so why not see what they have down on the farm? d’Arnaud offers the team potential upside and, with his speed, could form a dynamic top of the order along with Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen.
Middle infield is not exceptionally deep and with his speed he is going to be worth grabbing in all formats as soon as he makes his debut.
What are your thoughts of d’Arnaud? Do you see him as potentially making an impact in 2011? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out our other Prospect Reports as we wrap up 2010 and head towards 2011: