Travis d’Arnaud is widely considered one of the elite prospects in the game and perhaps the top catcher in the minor leagues (though Seattle’s Mike Zunino might have something to say about that). Unfortunately for d’Arnaud and his new club, the New York Mets, he’s also a bit fragile.
In Wednesday night’s contest with Sacramento, D’Arnaud, catching for Las Vegas, took a foul-tip to his left foot and was eventually removed from the contest. Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated a non-displaced fracture of the first metatarsal for d’Arnaud, who flew to New York to be examined by team physicians.
Early indications are that d’Arnaud could be forced to sit for at least a month before even beginning baseball activities, so this is an injury that could wind up costing him a significant portion of the season.
This is the second straight season that d’Arnaud will have missed a good deal of time. Last summer, d’Arnaud suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament and missed the second half of the season. Incidently, though he was property of the Toronto Blue Jays at the time, both injuries occurred while d’Arnaud was playing for the 51’s. Las Vegas switched affiliations from Toronto to New York during the off-season and d’Arnaud was involved in the trade that sent NL Cy Youngwinner R.A. Dickey to the Jays.
While an injury is never a good thing, this isn’t the kind of thing that should hamper d’Arnaud long-term. It also doesn’t have to alter the timetable for his arrival in the big leagues, as John Buck is off to a tremendous start for the Mets anyway. As long as d’Arnaud can make a healthy return to the 51’s and play the final three months of the minor league season, he should be in line for a September call-up and would be likely to head to Spring Training as New York’s primary catcher.
Another member of the Dickey trade, right hander Noah Syndergaard, also ran into some trouble this week.
While facing the powerful Ft. Myers Miracle in Florida State League action on Thursday, it didn’t take long for Syndergaard to become the latest victim of a Miguel Sano longball. Sano took Syndergaard deep in the very first inning and it was a harbinger of a bad outing.
The 6’5″ 20-year-old would wind up lasting just three innings and yielded eight hits and seven earned runs, though he didn’t factor in the decision of an 11-8 St. Lucie loss. Syndergaard walked two and struck out two. Four of the eight hits ha allowed went for extra bases.
2013 is his first taste of Advanced-A competition and this is the first time he’s really struggled. In two previous starts for St. Lucie, Syndergaard has allowed just two earned runs over nine innings of work and had fanned 13 batters. On the other hand, not many FSL teams feature the kind of lineup that Ft. Myers does. It will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments Syndergaard is able to make the next time he faces the Miracle.
While Syndergaard is a heralded prospect, he’s a few years away from helping out the big club. The same isn’t true for right hander Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is off to a solid start at Triple-A Las Vegas (3.86 ERA, 17 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched), and talk has already begun about when we might expect him to join Matt Harvey in the Mets rotation.
Mets Manager Terry Collins had made comments recently that Wheeler would be brought to the big leagues as soon as the organization deemed him ready for the job. Later, Alderson expanded on Collins’ remarks, saying that team need would also be a factor in Wheeler’s inevitable promotion to New York.
The Mets are currently using journeyman left hander Aaron Laffey at the back of their rotation and righty Jeremy Hefner has struggled thus far as well, so there is no reason to think that Wheeler’s path to the big leagues is somehow blocked by a lack of team need. That said, it’s also not a given that Wheeler has nothing left to gain by toiling in the PCL for a little while longer.
This is probably going to come down to service time, as most of these decisions do. Expect to see Wheeler in New York around the first of June, regardless of how well Laffey and Hefner are pitching.