Chase d’Arnaud Working to Become Fundamentally Sound

Despite an ongoing competition in major league camp for the backup middle infield spot, the Pittsburgh Pirates made infielder Chase d’Arnaud one of their first cuts. D’Arnaud spent time in the majors last year, taking over as the starting shortstop for part of the year while Ronny Cedeno went down. He didn’t do anything to make himself a lock for the backup job this year, but his early cut from camp was somewhat surprising.

Almost immediately, d’Arnaud began working daily with Pirates’ infield coordinator Gary Green on his fielding skills at shortstop.

A big reason the Pirates sent d’Arnaud down so early was to work on his fielding mechanics, specifically focusing on cutting down on his throwing errors.

“I think there were a lot of things I was doing wrong that I wasn’t aware of, and they brought it to my attention,” d’Arnaud said. “I was very open with them, and we’ve had good communication throughout the whole process of trying to tackle these things.”

“There was a lot of people that saw him in big league camp that had suggestions on what we could do to help fix him and get him straightened out,” Green said. “All of those suggestions were good, and we’ve put it in to practice here in the last five or six days. And he’s been a tremendous student, taking in the information and applying it. He’s been fantastic.”

The issue was that d’Arnaud wasn’t funneling the ball to his chest on routine grounders. He would funnel the ball to the side, which allowed his feet to get ahead of his arm. His arm would drag to the side, which would lead to bad throws.

The Pirates are working on getting him to funnel the ball to his chest, hold it for a split second, then begin his footwork. This allows his arm to catch up to his feet, which leads to him being square when he throws the ball, leading to more accurate throws.

“At first it felt awkward, but now [the changes] are starting to feel more comfortable,” d’Arnaud said.

The Pirates will enter the season with d’Arnaud as the regular shortstop in Indianapolis, with Jordy Mercer getting time at second and third.

“Right now, Chase [d’Arnaud] is going to get the primary opportunity at shortstop, partially because we’ve got more work to do there with Chase then we do with Jordy,” Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said.

The Pirates see Mercer as a more accomplished shortstop today, although they still view d’Arnaud as a guy who is capable of being a strong defender at the position.

“This guy’s explosive, he’s got a plus arm,” Green said of d’Arnaud’s skills at the position. “We just need to get him fundamentally sound and play under control on routine balls. If we can do that, if he can do that, there’s no telling what he can do down the way. He’s starting to get better at that. He’s starting to slow things down mechanically and mentally.”

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • John Lease

    Which makes you wonder with all the ‘uniformity’ in the minors why this wasn’t corrected 4 years ago.

    • white angus

      would you believe different coaches, which they had…  plus not everyone coaches the same way.  when you bring in new people you also bring in new eyes.

    • Tim Williams

      It was never really a huge problem in the past. They worked on his throwing in the past, and this is just the next step in that work, with some new ideas from the guys who saw him in major league camp.

  • Nate

    I felt the team had a totally different vibe with he and Alex at the top of the order.  You could see a spark vanish when those two weren’t in the lineup.  He, AP, Tabata, Marte, and Cutch have redunkulous speed. 

    • white angus

      and if d’Arnaud can harness his defense and also improve his funkyazz swing, he could be a nice addition to the pirates lineup.  his speed is a huge plus, no doubt.

  • emjayinTN

    Tim:  Proud owner of both the 2012 Annual and the 2012 Prospect Guide.  Great info.  One comment on the d”Arnaud article – you state that he is funneling to his chest – funneling is taught with the glove hand out in front, throwing hand coming down on the ball and then funneling both in and up to the belt buckle with the insides of both wrists.  Once this occurs, it is natural that both hands will rise above the belt buckle as the feet get set and the hands separate to make the throw. 

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