by John Viril—
Baseball personnel evaluators generally recognize Travis d’Arnaud as the top catching prospect in baseball. He’s a former first round draft pick, he has been named to four consecutive top 100 prospect lists by Baseball America and he was the centerpiece for this winter’s trade that moved 2012 National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets to Toronto.
D’Arnaud is also 15 months older than Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
While d’Arnaud has posted outstanding minor league numbers, he had yet to face major league competition. Rany Jazayeri (among others) has written extensively about the importance of prospect age. Players who achieve at precocious ages tend to have significantly brighter major league futures. At age 21, D’Arnaud hit .259/.311/.411 at high A Dunedin (Florida League). When Salvador Perez was 21, he smashed through AA, AAA and hit .331/.363/.473 in 158 PA in MLB. Overall, Perez has compiled nearly a full major league season between 2011 and 2012, ...