Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and outfielder Anthony Gose are rated the two top prospects in the Toronto organization by Baseball America. But both have struggled out of the gate in their first year of Triple-A baseball with the Las Vegas 51s.
d’Arnaud, who hit .311 with 21 homers and 78 RBI at Double-A New Hampshire of the Eastern League last season, had two hits in Thursday night’s 8-5 loss to the Fresno Grizzlies at Cashman Field to raise his average to just .207. The Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America is still searching for his first home run and has driven in just two runs despite batting in the cleanup spot.
Meanwhile, the explosive Gose, who batted .253 with 16 home runs and 70 stolen bases last season at New Hampshire, is hitting .114 with one RBI as the 51s’ leadoff hitter. He got his first two steals of the season in Thursday night’s loss after being tossed out in his first three attempts this season.
Las Vegas manager Marty Brown says it’s too early to be concerned about the poor stats.
“They’re going to have to make adjustments and they knew that coming in,” Brown said. “Travis has actually swung the bat pretty well. He’s had some hard luck showing for it. He’s made a lot of improvement catching-wise already, making a lot of adjustments.
“Anthony is just going to go through some growing pains at this level. There are pitchers here that have the ability to go on both sides of the plate. He’s got to understand what his game is. He can’t give up one half of the plate all the time like he probably did in Double-A.
“It’s a learning experience,” Brown added. “They both have great ability and they should be (rated) one and two or whatever they are. They’re very talented young men.”
Brown said he isn’t concerned that the talented duo might begin pressing following their slow starts.
“Nah, were just (eight) games into the season,” he said. “And both of them don’t have that type of personality.”
One player that is off to a great start for the 51s is shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
Rated as the best defensive infielder in the Toronto system by Baseball America, the former starting shortstop for the Cuban Junior National Team is hitting a team best .406 with three doubles and a triple in 32 at-bats. He also routinely makes dazzling defensive plays in the field.
“He’s probably one of the better shortstops I‘ve ever had defensively,” Brown said. “Offensively he’s done a lot of good things, staying in the middle of the field right now, and has gotten off to a really solid start. He just has to play games and get at-bats under his belt and wait for that time to come. He’s a very good looking shortstop and we’re going to expose him to second base too. It’s something I think will be good for him in the long run.”
NOTES – The 51s finished 2-6 in their season-opening homestand after Thursday night’s 8-5 loss to Fresno. Las Vegas opens an eight-game road trip on Friday night at Colorado Springs at 5:05 p.m. (920 AM). The 51s play four games against the Sky Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, before flying to Salt Lake City where they will play four games (April 17-20) against the Bees, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 51s returns home on Saturday, April 21, against Colorado Springs.
— Steve Guiremand