The thinking was that even if he didn't spray the ball to all parts of the field, his game-calling skills and ability to manage a pitching staff would be too much to ignore.
Now in his sixth year of pro baseball, d'Arnaud -- sent to Toronto in the deal that saw Roy Halladay traded to the Phillies in '09 -- is proving last season's career year at the plate was no fluke.
MLB.com's No. 20 prospect went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, three RBIs and two runs scored in the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s' 9-3 victory over the Tucson Padres on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old laced an opposite-field double down the first-base line -- his 19th two-bagger of the year -- to lead off the second inning and he hammered the first pitch he saw from Bear Bay in the third for a two-run homer to right field.
The catcher then slapped an RBI single to right field with two outs in the fourth to plate Adeiny Hechavarria from third base. With one out in the eighth, the 37th overall selection in the 2007 Draft capped his day by pulling a base hit to left field against right-hander Miles Mikolas.
The only time Toronto's top prospect did not reach base was when he struck out swinging to end the sixth.
Known as being an elite defensive catcher, d'Arnaud also made a big play on the other side of the ball when he picked Jesus Merchan off second base in the fifth when the Padres had runners on first and second base and nobody out.
The outing extended the California native's hitting streak to nine games and raised his average 10 more points to a season-high .343. He has also hit safely in 23 of his last 25 games, during which he is batting .435 (47-for-108) and slugging .861.
Nobody in pro ball has more total bases than d'Arnaud's 93 and only Oklahoma City's Mike Hessman (1.000) and Iowa's Anthony Rizzo (.885) have a higher slugging percentage over that span, which dates back to May 14.
d'Arnaud's big year should come as no surprise. With Double-A New Hampshire in 2011 -- a year he was also voted the best defensive catcher in a poll of Eastern League managers -- he hit .311 with 21 homers, 78 RBIs and a league-high .542 slugging percentage.
On Tuesday, Brett Cecil (1-0) earned the win, despite yielding three runs on 11 hits while striking out six batters over 6 2/3 innings. Clint Everts retired all seven batters he faced to earn his second save of the year.
First baseman Adam Lind -- fresh off a two-homer performance Monday -- hit his sixth Triple-A homer of the year, while Moises Sierra added his 11th longball.
Padres starter Bay (0-3) surrendered six runs on nine hits and four walks over five innings. He struck out one batter and surrendered two homers as his ERA jumped to 6.37.