The Pirates’ fourth round pick in 2008 got off to a slow start in that season, but used a strong year in 2009 to establish himself as the team’s top middle infield prospect. Between West Virginia (62 games, 255 PAs) and Lynchburg (54 games, 253 PAs), he hit .293/.398/.453 with a pretty even split between both levels, except with more power at Lynchburg. He only hit seven homers, but he also had seven triples and 33 doubles to build his power numbers and his 72/60 K/BB ratio is exceptional.
There are questions about his defense (he may have to move to second base in the long run) and as a college player, he should’ve hit well at West Virginia and probably Lynchburg. Still, he had a very good, well-rounded season, earned himself a trip to the Arizona Fall League, and should start 2010 out in Altoona where we’ll learn a lot more about him.
July 2010 Update: After a wretched April (.205/.284/.315) and May (.213/.315/.406), D’Arnaud got back on track in a big way in June (.319/.386/.504 with both of his homers and nine doubles). He’s struggling again in July, though only in a handful of games so far. The difference in June is line drives; his LD% looked much more like it did in his breakout 2009 season. Even in April and May he was drawing a good amount of walks, he just apparently wasn’t hitting the ball nearly as hard as he had in the past. That makes the second half a huge test for D’Arnaud; if he can keep hitting the way he has in June, he’s back to one of the top hitting prospects in the organization and looking at seeing some time in Pittsburgh as early as next year. If he struggles again, he might find himself repeating Double-A and depending on how Brock Holt rehabs from his knee injury, he may be passed as the best middle infield prospect in the organization.