The 23-year-old d’Arnaud was ranked by MLB.com as the 11th-best prospect in all of baseball and the best catching prospect this past September. The righthanded hitter batted .333 (93-279) with 45 runs scored, 21 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs and 52 RBI with a .380 on-base percentage in 67 games with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, Las Vegas (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League, last season. The Long Beach, Calif. native missed the final two months of the season after suffering a tear to the posterior cruciate ligament of his left knee which did not require surgery.
He was named the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011 after hitting .311 (132-424) with 72 runs scored, 33 doubles, 21 home runs and 78 RBI with a .371 on-base percentage with New Hampshire (AA). D’Arnaud also led the EL with a .542 slugging percentage and was named the league’s best defensive catcher by EL managers.
A former first-round compensation selection by Philadelphia in 2007, d’Arnaud was acquired by the Blue Jays in the trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies in December, 2009. The 6-2, 195-pounder has hit .286 (523-1,828) with 133 doubles, 66 home runs, 289 RBI with a .343 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage in six minor league seasons. D’Arnaud has been named to four minor league All-Star teams during that span and twice played in MLB’s Futures Game. His older brother Chase is an infielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Buck, 32, has 48 home runs over the last three years (2010-2012), the third-most in the majors as a catcher behind Brian McCann (63) and Matt Wieters (53). The 6-2, 230-pounder also has 160 RBI while playing behind the plate, ranking sixth in the majors during that span. Buck was an All-Star in 2010 when he hit 20 home runs and drove in 66 runs for the Blue Jays.
The Kemmerer, Wyo. native batted .192 (66-343) with 15 doubles, 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 106 games for the Miami Marlins last year. Buck has hit .235 (737-3,131) with 159 doubles, 118 home runs and 423 RBI during his nine-year career with the Royals, Blue Jays and Marlins.
NOAH SYNDERGAARD (pronounced “Sin-Der-Guard”)
Syndergaard, 20, went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA (30 earned runs/103.2 innings) and finished third in the Midwest League with 122 strikeouts in 27 games, 19 starts, for Lansing (A) in 2012. The 6-5, 200-pounder issued 31 walks and allowed three home runs while holding opponents to a .212 batting average.
The Mansfield, Tex. native ended 2012 as the third-best prospect in the Blue Jays organization according to MLB.com. Syndergaard was Toronto’s first round selection (38th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Syndergaard is 13-8 with a 2.35 ERA (46 earned runs/176.0 innings) and 196 strikeouts in 45 games, 35 starts in three minor league seasons.
WUILMER BECERRA (pronounced “Wilmer Ba-Ser-ah”)
Becerra, 18, hit .250 (8-32) with four doubles and four RBI in 11 games with the rookie-level Gulf Coast Blue Jays last year. The 6-4, 190-pounder is the son of former St. Louis Cardinals scout and Venezuelan star Wilmer Becerra.