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Florida State League notebook
Dunedin catcher d'Arnaud thriving since blockbuster deal
04/28/2010 10:00 AM ET
Travis d'Arnaud was the 37th overall pick in the 2007 Draft.
Travis d'Arnaud was the 37th overall pick in the 2007 Draft. (Bodhi Hill/MiLB.com)
When Roy Halladay was traded from Toronto to Philadelphia this offseason, a big part of the deal was coveted Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek.

Seemingly forgotten in that trade was a catcher in the Phillies organization, Travis d'Arnaud. But he may not be forgotten much longer.

Selected 37th overall in the 2007 Draft, d'Arnaud struggled in the Gulf Coast League, hitting just .241. His numbers improved the next season, but his performance was nothing extraordinary. Last year at Lakewood in the South Atlantic League, d'Arnaud racked up good RBI numbers but not much else.

So far this season, though, everything seems to be coming together.

As the second week of the 2010 season came to an end, d'Arnaud showed signs that his playing days in the Florida State League may also soon come to a close. That's because he's quickly putting up numbers that beg for a promotion.

Through 16 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Long Beach, Calif., native is hitting .328 with five doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs. Perhaps an afterthought in Major League Baseball's biggest offseason trade, d'Arnaud doesn't look at that as a snub. He's just concerned about hitting.

"I just looked at it as I was part of a deal for the greatest pitcher in baseball right now," d'Arnaud said. "For me, it was more of a surprise."

An avid golfer, d'Arnaud tries to forget about everything else when he hits the links, including baseball. When he learned of the trade, however, he was on the golf course.

Looking back, he was more aggravated that the phone call alerting him to the trade ruined his golf game than the fact he was changing organizations. He was tipped off by friends who saw a headline on ESPN detailing the transaction.

"I was shocked," d'Arnaud.

As for his ruined golf game, d'Arnaud just shakes his head, noting that he shot an 85 that day.

"I try to play golf to take my mind away from baseball," d'Arnaud said.

It could have been worse for d'Arnaud. Dunedin is less than six miles from Clearwater, home of Philadelphia's FSL affiliate. Often players from both teams mingle and cross paths away from the baseball facilities.

"The [location] made the trade a lot easier for me because I already know the area," d'Arnaud said. "I already knew a lot of Blue Jays players because we played them so often. There were no real problems changing teams."

Despite not being with the Phillies any longer, the organization left an impression on him. While playing at Class A Short-Season Williamsport, d'Arnaud was under the watchful eye of then-Phillies Minor League hitting instructor Eric Valent, and it was Valent's tutoring that has helped transform d'Arnaud into a feared hitter.

Valent -- a teammate at UCLA of Troy Glaus, Eric Byrnes, Chase Utley and Garrett Atkins -- was sent to Williamsport in his first year as a coach in the Phillies organization.

"He meant a lot to me," d'Arnaud said. "We talked every day. We talked about hitting in certain situations and what pitches to sit on, just how baseball is more of a thinking game, that you should be always ready to hit. I was taught in high school to react to the ball, but Eric taught me to expect that something is coming."

In brief

Healing just fine: Daytona right-hander Dae-Eun Rhee may have finally bounced back from Tommy John surgery. After struggling since surgery, Rhee threw a gem April 24 for his first FSL win in a 1-0 victory over Brevard County. Rhee allowed one hit through six innings, retiring the first eight batters he faced.

Some friend: Palm Beach starter Jared Bradford flirted with a no-hitter in the Cardinals' 5-2 win over St. Lucie on April 21. The LSU product threw 7 1/3 hitless innings before giving up a double to Eric Campbell, his friend and former teammate in the Valley Baseball League in Virginia.

Dedicated fan: "Front Row" Joe Rowe, known as the Daytona Cubs' "Superfan," attended his 1,000 consecutive game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark on April 21. Tampa spoiled the night for Rowe, defeating Daytona, 4-1.

Lee Diekemper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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