D'Arnaud Starts Climb Up The Catching Ladder

Travis D'Arnaud has a lot of ground to make up to catch the likes of catching prospects Jason Jaramillo and Lou Marson, but don't count him out. Lakewood's newest addition could arguably become the best of the bunch.

Travis D'Arnaud has the look of a guy that you're not going to get anything over on. He's got a tough look about him and looks the part of the gritty young catching prospect that he is and shows that well on the field. If not for an injury to Lakewood's starting catcher, Joel Naughton, D'Arnaud would still be punishing New York - Penn League hitters (he was hitting .309 with 4 home runs), but now, he's posing problems for pitchers in the South Atlantic League.

D'Arnaud arrived in time for Friday night's game against Charleston and went right to work driving in a key run in a game that the BlueClaws wound up losing 7-5. The rest of the weekend went badly for the 'Claws on the field, but well for D'Arnaud, who hit .462 (6-for-13) over the weekend. For a 19 year old, Lakewood's not a bad place to be in just his second pro season. The Phillies started D'Arnaud in the Gulf Coast League in 2007 after using the 37th overall pick to grab him out of California's Lakewood High School. Actually, D'Arnaud figured he might just finish the season at Williamsport until Naughton broke his foot and he was on his way up. "I actually got a text from one of the guys that I know on Lakewood and they told me about Joel," explained D'Arnaud. "Then when the coach called me, I figured this was what it was about."

If there has been any knock on D'Arnaud, it would be that some wondered just how well he'd hit and his .241 performance in the GCL didn't do a lot to persuade any detractors. That's why his numbers this season have been such a good sign and it's something that D'Arnaud has worked very hard to get good at doing. "I knew that if I worked hard and focused on my offense, that it would come together. I don't try to be the best hitter on the field, I just try to do what I can and help out with the bat," explained D'Arnaud. If he can keep up the offensive display, D'Arnaud could well work his way to the top of the rankings on the catching depth chart for the Phillies, but it's not something that he thinks about. "There are too many other things to worry about. You'll find people who think I'm better than somebody and then other people will say they're better than me. There are a lot of things that can happen along the way, so you just do what you can and see how it all turns out," said D'Arnaud. For now, D'Arnaud is still ranked third among the catching prospects, with Marson and Jaramillo ahead of him both in terms of experience and being major league ready. "I don't think it will take too long to work my way up, but again, I don't worry about that. If I would have spent the entire season at Williamsport, I would have understood that. Of course, I certainly don't mind moving up here [Lakewood]," laughed the 6'2", 195 pound prospect.

D'Arnaud is a tough player, who isn't afraid to take charge on the field. Defensively, he's got very good tools, but will need a little more work on his throwing mechanics. He threw out just 22% of would-be base stealers at Williamsport, but did knock out 1-of-2 thieves this weekend against Charleston. Scouts have been impressed with D'Arnaud's skills in working with pitchers and it's something that he prides himself on. "I think that's important. You have to get into their game plan and know where they feel comfortable, but at the same time, you have to keep challenging them to be even better," said D'Arnaud, who isn't a complete stranger to some of the pitchers on Lakewood's staff, because he caught them last season or in minor league camp this past spring.

The good news for Lakewood is that even with Naughton going down with an injury, they won't miss a beat behind the plate thanks to D'Arnaud's arrival. That's going to be important if the 'Claws are to catch division leading West Virginia, who took advantage of Charleston's weekend sweep of Lakewood to pull three games ahead of the BlueClaws. The 'Claws have one more game against Charleston before heading out on the road for five games.

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