It’s hard out there for a prospect. first, you need to keep your body in one piece long enough to make it to the big paydays of the Major Leagues. Then you need to prove that all your blue chip hype and bluster isn’t in vain, as you struggle to make the required adjustments to stay up in the world of lofty paychecks and expensive hotels.
Travis d’Arnaud and Brett Wallace are like two sides of the same coin, in a way. Well-regarded prospects who also happened to get traded more than once during their ascent to the big leagues. Wallace was drafted by the Cardinals, traded to the A’s as part of the Matt Holliday trade then moved to the Blue Jays in the aftermath of the Roy Halladay deal.
With the Jays he did what he did at every minor league stop: he raked. He hit the ball and posted appealing minor league batting averages, though his power numbers worried some in the supercharged offensive atmosphere of Las Vegas. The Jays eventually shipped Wallace to Houston in exchange for Anthony Gose, one of their original targets in the lead-up to the Halladay deal.
Brett Wallace seems to have found a home with the Astros, though his role is uncertain. Just as many feared as his body developed and his number of minor league at bats grew, Brett Wallace hasn’t really shown a great deal of power at the big league level. He has shown a stupendous ability to strikeout, however.
As a big leaguer, Wallace’s strikeout rate of 28.2% isn’t awful. Below average? Considerably. But plenty of hitters strike out. Most of them hit the odd home run. Brett Wallace has just 16 home runs in 818 big league plate appearances. That won’t cut it.
Also not cutting it? His extreme, off-the-charts, “no way is this real” K rate here in 2013. How does 65% grab ya? 17 strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. Yikes. Apparently the Astros have seen enough as they opted to send Brett Wallace back to Triple-A today, recalling Brandon Laird.
As a guy who doesn’t really hit for power and doesn’t really walk and doesn’t really play a premium defensive position (not for lack of effort, mind you), Brett Wallace is sort of stuck. He wasn’t end of the world bad in 2012, posting a 104 wRC+ in 254 plate appearances, but at what point do the Astros just move on?
The Mets aren’t about to move on from Travis d’Arnaud, though his body parts are conspiring against him in an attempt to undo all his prospect shine. The catcher of the future for no fewer than three teams is hurt again, this time suffering a non-displaced fracture in his foot while playing for the Mets triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
D’Arnaud headed back to NYC to be examined. He’s in a walking boot, non displaced fracture of 1st metatarsal left foot. He’s in a boot.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) April 18, 2013
d’Araund, like Wallace, has moved around more than most top prospects. Initially considered a single-A throw-in from the Phillies in the aforementioned Roy Halladay trade, d’Arnaud’s stock rose sharply as a member of the Blue Jays farm system. After a few strong months at triple-A Las Vegas, d’Arnaud suffered a partial tear of a ligament in his knee in late June, missing the rest of the minor league season. This on the heels of thumb surgery after he was injured representing the United States at the 2011 Baseball World Cup in Panama.
The Blue Jays then packaged d’Arnaud with low-A pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard to land NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey in a huge off-season move. Mets fans salivated at the prospect of their vaunted pitching prospects like Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler throwing to a high-floor catcher like d’Arnaud. That doesn’t stop his name from slipping into pie-in-the-sky trade scenarios for Mets fans hoping to land Giancarlo Stanton, however.
Travis d’Arnaud’s fracture is in a very difficult place for catcher, on instep. Will cost him significant time, second lost season.
— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) April 18, 2013
Note: this man is not a doctor
Injury prone is an ugly tag to stick on a player. Injuries happen, often in freakish or unpredictable ways. Unfortunately for Travis d’Arnaud, he hasn’t been able to dodge the injury bug yet in his nascent career. Rather than a recurring series of nagging injuries, d’Arnaud seems to suffer freak injuries, each one to a different body part and each one more catastrophic than the last. Will it prevent him from becoming a productive big leaguer? Hard to say. One thing I do know: it is difficult to get onto the big league field for the first time when you’re wearing a walk boot.