Though he’s only a second-year pro and just earned a promotion to Double-A at the start of this month, Silas Ardoin has spent time in a major league clubhouse before.
He has his father — Danny Ardoin, whose spent parts of five seasons in the majors, including a five-game stint with Baltimore in 2006 — to thank for it.
“Luckily enough for me, I got to grow up in a clubhouse a little bit,” Silas Ardoin said last week. “He’d take us to work every now and then and me and my older brother would play in the field and the locker room. That’s a great memory of mine.”
The younger Ardoin, a fourth-round pick last year out of Texas, has gotten off to a fine start to making it two major-leaguers in his family. Most encouraging is how he’s figured out how to adapt and adjust as his first full year of pro ball has unfolded.
His offensive numbers at High-A Aberdeen — .215 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 68 games — might not jump off the page — but he made considerable progress in the second half of the season. Ardoin had eight extra-base hits in the first three months of the season, then slashed .264/.451/.566 while collecting four doubles and four home runs in July.
That helped him earn a promotion to Bowie, where he’s put together a .364/.429/.500 slash line in 12 games for the Baysox.
“That’s the goal for a season is wherever you start, to finish better than where you started,” Ardoin said. “That was my goal going into the season — first, stay healthy the entire season and continue to grow and develop as a player on the offensive and defensive side. There’s always a lot of things to learn and things to grow on, and that’s something that I take a lot of pride in — coming in every day and finding something to work on.”
He was in the middle of two critical moments in Sunday’s 7-6 victory over Altoona, leading off the ninth with his first Double-A home run to force extra innings, then doubling in a run in the 13th and later scoring on Greg Cullen’s homer to cap a 7-6 victory.
While there are defensive demands on a catcher at the professional level, Ardoin said it’s the tweaks needed on offense that have been more challenging.
‘There’s always a lot of adjustments being made, not just for a catcher but for any player on the offensive side,” Ardoin said. “Defensively, I just try to stick to what I know and it’s been great. Being able to adjust to new pitching at the next level hasn’t been too much of a transition for me. On the offensive side, you have to learn how to build different approaches and maybe tone down your swing. That’s been good.”
One thing Ardoin has already developed at a high level is plate discipline. There’s a case that drawing walks is his most distinct offensive skill at the moment, and he ended Sunday with exactly as many hits as base on balls (72 each) in his pro career.
That’s how a .232 hitter in 96 minor-league games has an impressive .381 on-base percentage in that span.
“Walks have always been a big part of my game,” Ardoin said. “Since I was young, I’ve always had a good eye at the plate. I don’t know if that’s from being a catcher, but it’s just something I’ve always had in my toolbag. I take a lot of pride in my walks.”
It might be his second-greatest advantage as he climbs through Baltimore’s minor-league system, behind having a father who experienced the same process more than two decades ago.
Danny Ardoin was drafted three times, eventually signing as a fifth-rounder out of McNeese State. He debuted with Minnesota in 2000, and made stops with Colorado (2005-06), Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2008). His stint in Baltimore came after a waiver claim in late August.
Now, he provides counsel and insight to his son as he chases his own big-league dream.
“I’m very fortunate and I always say that I am to have somebody like him in my house who has 15 years of experience at the professional level,” Silas Ardoin said. “I call him every night after the games and call him every morning. We’re always talking ball. We’re always talking about how I can get a little bit better and perfect my craft. He knows the ups and downs of the season, so it’s nice to rely on him whenever you might be going through a struggle and also when you’re having success.”