Daulton Varsho: D-backs 2019 Minor League Player Of The Year
For months, 23-year-old catcher Daulton Varsho was having himself a fine season at Double-A Jackson. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad, either. Most probably would have described it as solid.
For Varsho, though, it was disappointing.
"I was getting my pitches,” Varsho said, "and I was just missing them.”
That changed—in a hurry—in the beginning of July, and Varsho rode a hot streak all the way to the top of the Southern League leaderboards. Through 103 games he led the league in slugging (.520) and OPS (.885).
No player in the system this year has a better combination of in-season production, positional value and prospect standing—at least not in the upper minors—like Varsho, who had hit .343 with a 1.026 OPS in the second half.
"It was just trusting my approach and consistently sticking with it every day,” Varsho said. "It’s knowing what a pitcher is doing, going up there and trusting that my hands are good enough and quick enough to get to every pitch and not beat myself up over a bad swing, because here comes the next swing.”
The lefthanded-hitting Varsho was batting .298/.376/.520 with 17 homers and 21 stolen bases. He is the first catcher in Double-A or Triple-A to steal 20 bases in a season since at least 2006. Varsho also had 40 walks and just 59 strikeouts.
"Those look like numbers from back when my dad was playing,” farm director Mike Bell said, referencing his father Buddy Bell, who peaked in 1979. "That’s what we’re looking for. He’s doing everything we talk about as an organization with his ability to get on base and drive the ball.”
While he earns passing grades behind the plate, Varsho’s offensive potential continues to create questions about his future position, particularly with catcher Carson Kelly’s emergence at the major league level.
Team officials believe he Varsho the athleticism to play a variety of positions. To underscore this point, they auditioned him in center field in the closing days of August.
"I don’t think anyone thinks he can’t catch in the big leagues,” assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said. "But I also don’t think anyone knows where his future position will be. His bat will play somewhere.”