Born: January 21, 1987
Height: 6′ 2″
Drafted: 4th Round, 114th Overall, 2008
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|In the Pirates’ 2008 draft, d’Arnaud was the second in a spree of left-side infielders that included Jordy Mercer, Benji Gonzalez, Jeremy Farrell, Matt Hague, Jarek Cunningham and Matt Payne. The team was no doubt conscious of the fact that it was very short on infield prospects. D’Arnaud’s draft stock went up when he moved from third to short in 2008. According to Baseball America, he was above-average defensively at third and average at short. Offensively, he improved a lot, both in power and plate discipline, in his junior year, although BA characterized his power as gap rather than HR power. He has surprising speed and has been an excellent base stealer as a pro.
D’Arnaud and third rounder Mercer, also a shortstop, were assigned initially to State College. The Pirates decided soon afterward to separate the two so both could remain at SS, so they moved Mercer up to Hickory. The team is determined to develop prospects as long as possible at most challenging position they can handle. D’Arnaud started slowly, posting a .517 OPS in brief June action, then missed most of July with ankle problem. He got hot in August, hitting 343/393/490. He had a strong platoon split, with an OPS of .910 against LHPs and .717 against RHPs. He played a little at short but mainly at third.
Opened at West Virginia, playing short exclusively. He had a solid first half, showing impressive plate discipline and more base stealing ability than expected. The Pirates moved him up to Lynchburg in late June. He hit even better there, despite missing time in July with a wrist injury. He showed more power than he had previously, and continued to draw walks and steal bases effectively. He hammered LHPs all year, with an OPS against them well over 1.000 at both stops. Of course, that means he didn’t hit RHPs very well. With Lynchburg, d’Arnaud split time between the two middle infield positions, sharing short with Mercer and second with trade acquisition Josh Harrison. Oddly, he had a .975 fielding percentage at short and .920 at second. In the long run, according to BA and Baseball Prospectus, scouts think d’Arnaud will end up at second because his range may not be quite good enough for short.
Went into the season as one of the Pirates’ top prospects, but had a disappointing year. He spent most of the year as the starting shortstop for Altoona, but struggled defensively, with 28 errors. Late in the season, the Pirates moved him to second and put Mercer at short. Of the two, Mercer appears to me to have the better range and arm. D’Arnaud struggled even more at the plate. He had only one good (June, with an .883 OPS) and one decent (August, .720) month. In April, May and July, he hit .205, .211 and .218, respectively. D’Arnaud was recovering from pneumonia at the beginning of the season and, according to some people who saw him, looked terrible, so that may have contributed to the bad start. His secondary skills remained good, as he drew enough walks to have a respectable OBP, hit for good gap power, and did very well at stealing bases. He continued to have a strong platoon split, posting an .805 OPS against LHPs and .670 against RHPs.
Surprisingly, the Pirates sent d’Arnaud to Indianapolis to start the season and left Mercer, who’d had a little better 2010 season, at Altoona. He started off slowly, with an OPS of .696 in April, but he got hot in May and posted an OPS of .813 that month and .793 in June. He played short until Pedro Alvarez got hurt, when he started playing some at third. When Ronny Cedeno went out with a concussion in late June, the Pirates called d’Arnaud up and he became the starter at short. When Cedeno came back, d’Arnaud stayed on as a utility player and got some starts at third. In late July, however, he went on the disabled list with a broken finger. He went on rehab, but the finger was still swollen and he hit just .184 at Indianapolis. His plate discipline dropped off, but he continued to steal bases well in the minors. He also had a huge platoon split, with an OPS of .945 against LHPs and .609 against RHPs. He had just four errors in 47 games at short and none in 22 games at second. His time in the majors was a different story, as he appeared to be out of his depth. He struggled to hit, with terrible walk and K rates. Defensively, he struggled at short, committing six errors, leading to a fielding percentage of .936. The defensive stats show his range wasn’t good, either, although the sample sizes are very small. The one positive was his baserunning, as he showed excellent speed, aggressiveness and judgment, and did well stealing bases.
The Pirates sent d’Arnaud back to AAA, but he missed nearly all of April and part of May with a concussion after getting beaned. Once he returned he struggled. He batted 213/319/337 prior to the AAA All-Star break, but rebounded to hit 296/333/436 afterward. Although he hit better in the second half, his plate discipline got considerably worse, as he had just nine walks to go with 39 strikeouts. On the season, d’Arnaud struggled with RHPs, posting a .670 OPS against them and .823 against LHPs. He continued to be an impressive base stealer. He stayed at short throughout the season, when he wasn’t hurt, but didn’t show Mercer’s range. The Pirates called him up in September after Indianapolis was eliminated from the playoffs, but he served mainly as a pinch runner.
D’Arnaud had another difficult season. He opened it on the 60-day disabled list after having surgery to repair a partially torn thumb ligament during spring training. D’Arnaud’s return from injury apparently became the precondition for the Pirates finally releasing the clearly washed-up John McDonald, as they were reluctant to have too few shortstops available. He returned in May, but missed several weeks in July due to a wrist injury and also was hampered by a hip flexor. When he was able to play, he mostly struggled at the plate. It’s hard to say how much his hitting was affected by the injuries, especially considering that hand and wrist injuries can affect a hitter for long after he returns to play. In the field, d’Arnaud played mostly short, but he also saw time at second and a little in the outfield. He did not get a September callup.
The 2013 season was another step back for d’Arnaud, both health- and performance-wise, although it’s possible the former played a large role in the latter. Regardless, he’ll open 2014 at age 27 and he has yet to perform well above high A. The Pirates designated him for assignment when they claimed Brent Morel and d’Arnaud cleared waivers. After removing him from the roster, they played him in center during minor league exhibitions, so he’ll evidently return to Indianapolis as a utility player.
UPDATE: D’Arnaud did not have a good year in AAA in 2014, but the Pirates called him up for September to act primarily as a pinch runner.
|2014: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $293,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 6/24/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: 2018
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 6/24/2011
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2012, 2013)
MLB Service Time: 0.125
|June 8, 2005: Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 44th round, 1330th overall pick.
June 6, 2008: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round, 114th overall pick; signed on June 17.
June 24, 2011: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
February 24, 2014: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates, outrighted to AAA on March 1.
September 2, 2014: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.