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NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST Travis D’arnaud, New York Mets Catcher The Mets were so confident Travis d’Arnaud was their catcher of the future that they traded away former starting backstop John Buck when they were set to call up the 6-2, 195-pound d’Arnaud from Triple-A. He didn’t do much with the 99 at bats (.202-1-5), but the Mets were happy with the 258 innings that he put behind the plate in 30 starts. The team’s biggest concern is keeping this catcher healthy for the 2013 campaign, with d’Arnaud regularly missing half the season three of the past four years, with foot (2013), knee (2012) and back injuries (2010). When healthy, the Mets’ 25-year-old catcher has been known to hit for average and power (in 2011 while playing for New Hampshire, d’Arnaud was the Eastern League MVP, with 21 homers in 114 games, while batting .311 with a .914 OPS. But until he proves his worth on a major-league field for an entire season, he will continue to be known in inner circles as the minor-league catcher who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay and then later traded to the Mets for Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey. It’s a nice claim, but it would mean so much more to earn a Silver Bat or Gold Glove or staff ERA under 3.30. NL EAST DIVISION NOTABLES: Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves C; A.J. Cole, Washington Nationals P; Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Philadelphia Phillies P; Jake Marisnick, Miami Marlins OF. Hamilton NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds Outfielder This sliding Billy Hamilton is not to be confused with 19th Century Hall of Famer “Sliding” Billy Hamilton of 1888-to-1901 fame and game. But should the 21st-Century Hamilton hit like 19th-Century Hamilton, then we may all be in store for some 100-plus stolen-base seasons once again. That’s right, 21st-Century Billy is that fast. In fact, the Cincinnati Reds’ rookie’s part-time position in a short 2013 call-up was listed as “pinch runner,” after logging only seven of his 13 games in centerfield. But it is what Hamilton did in those 13 games that got jaws to drop all across America: 13 steals in 14 attempts in 13 games. That’s right. One stolen base per game in the big leagues. Not bad for a man with only 22 plate appearances, with 19 at bats, 5 singles, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Slated as the starting centerfielder for Cincinnati this season, Hamilton is projected to log 61 steals by FantasyPros, though the rotisserie prognosticator does only predict a .253 batting average. Such is the case for a former minor league who batted only .280 in the lower circuit with an on-base percentage of .350 in 502 games. That said, the 6-0, 160-pound flash did steal 395 bases in those same 502 games, so you see the reason for the excitement in Ohio. It’s not surprising with his speed that Hamilton also brings defensive talent, with a great glove and unbelievable range to cover the vast outfields of Cincinnati. So if Hamilton can meet his 2013 Triple-A numbers (.256-6-41 with .308 on-base percentage), he might be able to keep his position. If not, the 23-year-old Red may platoon and will definitely be used as a pinch- runner sensation on a frequent basis. NL CENTRAL DIVISION NOTABLES: Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers RP; Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates OF; Arodys Vizcaino, Chicago Cubs RP; Kolten Wong, St. Louis Cardinals 2B; d’Arnaud


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