Chase d'Arnaud, 22, is a Long Beach boy. He went to high school at Los Alamitos, where he hit .512 with 5 homers, 30 RBI and 32 runs scored as a senior in 2005. It was good enough to get him drafted in the 44th round by the Dodgers.
But instead of giving the Big Blue a hometown discount, he went off to Pepperdine. d’Arnaud hit .314 with 11 home runs, 17 doubles, 50 RBI, 52 runs scored and 10 stolen bases for the Waves in 2008, his junior season, playing third and short.
He topped his year off during the NCAA Regionals. In four games, d’Arnaud hit .429 with three home runs and five RBI and was named to the All-Tournament Team, to go along with his Honorable Mention selection to the All-West Coast Conference squad.
d'Arnaud was the Pirates' 4th round pick in the 2008 draft (114th overall), as the new suits loaded up with middle infield types. He inked a deal for $293K, and was sent to short-season State College.
The infielder put up solid numbers there and was a NY-Penn League All-Star as a third baseman. His line in his first year of pro ball was .286 with a .333 OBP. He had one homer, 21 RBI, and 26 runs while stealing 14 sacks in 16 tries.
In 2009, he split time for the Pirates' Class A clubs. In 62 games for Low A West Virginia, D'Arnaud hit .291 with 3 HR and 31 RBI, and had a .394 OBP while stealing 17 bases in 20 attempts. He was a Sally League All-Star, playing exclusively at shortstop.
On June 22nd, right after the All-Star game, he was promoted to High A Lynchburg. d'Arnaud hit .295 with a .402 OBP and 4 homers, 26 RBI, and 45 runs scored. He kept his larceny rate strong, too, with 14 steals in 19 attempts. He played both short and second for the Carolina League champ Hillcats.
He kept it going in the Arizona League, where he batted .296 with a .383 OBP, and swiped 13 sacks in 15 tries for Scottsdale.
GW has him rated this high not because of his tools, but because of his consistency and how he fits in the Pirate puzzle.
d’Arnaud works deep counts and get on base. His speed is good, although not overwhelming, but he knows how to get around the basepath and has an 82% base stealing success rate. He draws walks (12% rate), and while not much a banger, d'Arnaud has some gap power and uses all the field.
d'Arnaud has good hands and a decent enough arm. His range is a bit suspect, which is why the Pirates got him some time at second base with Lynchburg, especially with Shelby Ford's boat taking on water.
So what he looks like now is a guy that's not flashy, but a steady, hard-nosed infielder (did we mention he was plunked 17 times in 2009?) who projects as a second baseman that can hit out of the two hole, just what the doc ordered for the Pirates.
Baseball America likes him, too. They see him as the number #5 Bucco prospect for 2010, and predict that he'll eventually be Pittsburgh's starting second sacker.
His next stop is at Altoona. d'Arnaud will be 23 next month, and he's just about right on track for his background, playing at his fourth level in three seasons, and may end up at Indy before the year's played out.
He'll be chasing his little brother Travis, the 37th overall pick in the 2007 draft, who's now a catcher in the Blue Jays organization after the recent Roy Halladay blockbuster deal, to see who gets to the show first.
(Next - #3 Brad Lincoln)