Daal injured his elbow during this year's instructs last month. After shutting things down at the Padres' Dominican complex, further evaluation showed the need for surgery.
Originally signed out of a Dutch semi-pro league at 16 years old, Daal was moved behind the plate by the Padres when he came stateside in 2011. While he has strong raw tools behind the plate – including a very strong arm pre-surgery – Daal is in need of a significant amount of in-game experience to smooth out his defense.
"If pitchers come back," said vice president of player development Randy Smith by email, there is "no reason to think Rodney cannot come back and catch. He is a good athlete so there are options if he cannot catch."
Daal, who will turn 20 in March, was likely ticketed to be the starting catcher in Lake Elsinore in 2014. With his injury, Dane Phillips' defensive struggles and Jose Ruiz's slow development, the Padres are suddenly quite thin behind the plate in the lower minors. The club was already experimenting with 2012 draftee Maxx Tissenbaum at catcher during instructs.