Jays' d'Arnaud Eastern League MVP

Blue Jays' New Hampshire catcher Travis d'Arnaud is the double-A Eastern League's MVP. (MLB.com...

Blue Jays' New Hampshire catcher Travis d'Arnaud is the double-A Eastern League's MVP. (MLB.com photo)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:23 PM ET

BALTIMORE - New Hampshire catcher Travis d’Arnaud earned most valuable player honours in the double-A Eastern League.

Good news or bad?

After all, Kyle Drabek won Eastern League pitcher of the year in 2010 and this season has made as many starts at triple-A Vegas as he made when he opened the season with the Blue Jays: 14.

D’Arnaud would rather be where he is now than entering next season coming off a season with a .201 batting average. Adam Lind won the same award in 2006 and he grew up fine.

“I saw him a month ago in Binghamton and we had a long conversation,” said field co-ordinator Doug Davis. “Having him with (manager) Sal Fasano this season was a big key for us. I’ve seen improvement. He has been excellent at receiving, excellent at throwing.

“The last piece of catching is to be able to handle playing every day.”

On Monday, d’Arnaud celebrated with five RBIs as New Hampshire thumped Trenton 10-5.

D’Arnaud singled in the first, hit a grand slam to right in the fourth and hit an run-scoring single to left in the seventh.

Roll these d’Arnaud numbers around on your tongue as you consider the 2014 season: He is hitting .313, with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 77 RBIs. He has scored 71 times and owns a .373 on-base percentage, .541 slugging percentage and .914 OPS in 111 games.

He’s top man among players still in the league in slugging percentage and OPS, third in total bases and homers.

While squatting, he’s thrown out 26% of base stealers, sixth best in the league.

“I saw d’Arnaud for two series before the all-star break,” said one evaluator. “He’s solid, with a good swing. He’ll play in the big leagues. Numbers-wise, he’ll hit 12-15 homers in the majors, with maybe 75-80 RBIs.

“He can play. He’s more athletic than Brad Ausmus, maybe a little better than Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies.”

What about comparing J.P. Arencibia, the Jays current No. 1 catcher to the catcher of the future?

“Arencibia has way more power,” the scout said, “but d’Arnaud is a better all-round catcher.”

Outfielder Anthony Gose is hitting .252 with 19 doubles, seven triples, 15 homers, 55 RBIs and 68 stolen bases in 132 games at New Hampshire.

Now, here’s the question: Could Drabek be the third-best of the three players the Jays received from moving right-hander Roy Halladay?

At the time of the deal in 2009, Drabek was the stud hoss, while d’Arnaud and Brett Wallace, later flipped for the younger Gose, were former No. 1 picks.

Drabek is 4-4 with a 7.41 ERA at Vegas, walking 41 and striking out 41 in 68 innings. With the Jays he walked 52 and struck out 48 in 72 2/3 innings.

In his first five seasons in the minors Drabek walked 164 and fanned 358 in 429 2/3 innings.

Will he be promoted when rosters expand?

Honours

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, Gose and d’Arnaud earned all-star honours at New Hampshire. Hechavarria was selected for his glove, hitting .235 with six homers and 46 RBIs. He’s hitting .377 at Vegas in 18 games ... Catcher A.J. Jimenez (.301, four, 51 in 100 games), outfielder Brad Glenn (.265, 24, 76 in 107 games), starter Nestor Molina (10-3, 2.58 ERA in 21 appearances) and reliever Wes Etheridge (1-1, 1.89, 32 saves) earned all-star selections at Dunedin ... Outfielder Jake Marisnick (.324, 14, 77 RBIs in 113 games) and Michael Crouse (.263, 13, 54 in 98 games) of Port Moody, B.C. were Midwest League all-stars at Lansing ... Outfielders Kevin Pillar (.367, seven, 37 in 60 games) and Chris Hawkins (.318, five, 52 in 68 games), plus first baseman Art Charles (.240, 11, 61 in 68 games) were all-stars at Bluefield.

Skippers praised

New Hampshire’s Sal Fasano, Dunedin’s Clayton McCullough, Lansing’s Mike Redmond and Bluefield’s Dennis Holmberg were all named managers of the year in their respective leagues.

“I didn’t hire Dennis, but I may have had something to do with the others,” Davis said.

Minor-league notes

— First baseman Art Charles, who had 11 homers and led the Appalachian League in RBIs with 61, was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs as Bluefield beat Elizabethton 11-3 in the opening game of the playoffs Wednesday night. Lefty Tyler Ybarra pitched 51/3 innings allowing three runs — two earned — on three hits and five walks. Kevin Pillar also was 3-for-5.

— Whispers continue in Ottawa that the city is in the midst of contract talks to bring a double-A team to the capital. The Jays say that they are happy with their affiliate in Concord, N.H. New Hampshire has averaged 5,574 fans to date.

— Right fielder Moises Sierra hit his 18th homer as New Hampshire lost 7-2 to Trenton. Yohan Pino was saddled with the loss allowing four runs on six hits and one walk. Centre fielder Anthony Gose reached twice and stole two bases giving him 68 on the season.

— Brad McElroy of St. Thomas had three hits, including his 24th double, as Dunedin beat Lakeland 7-2 with catcher Sean Ochinko knocking in four runs.

— Catcher Carlos Perez hit his third triple and single in a 4-1 Lansing win over Great Lakes. Marcus Walden worked six innings allowing one run and fanning three, as Dayton Marze worked three scoreless innings for his seventh save.

The leaderboard

Home runs: Brad Glenn 25, Travis d’Arnaud 20, Jon Talley 19, Brian Van Kirk and Moises Sierra 17 each.

OPS: Eric Arce 1.015, Kevin Patterson 1.006, David Cooper .986, d’Arnaud .914, Kevin Pillar .911.

ERA: Justin Nicolino 1.21, Danny Barnes 2.25, Nestor Molina 2.26, Wes Etheridge 2.52, Drew Hutchison 2.62.

Strikeouts: Molina 144, Brad Mills 123, Deck McGuire 121, Casey Lawrence 111, Sean Nolin 103.


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