Daulton Varsho Shows The Passion To Catch
Daulton Varsho can’t say what it was that drew him to catching. His dad Gary was an outfielder, playing parts of eight seasons in the majors, and Daulton grew up around big league clubhouses. He remembers locking in, for whatever reason, on the guys behind the plate.
"I’ve always had a passion for it,” said Varsho, 21. "I guess I just learned to love it and kind of always wanted to be one.”
Entering his first full season as a professional, Varsho’s future position remains something of an open question.
The Diamondbacks, who drafted him last year in the supplemental second round out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, believe he can remain behind the plate. Varsho is doing everything he can to prove them right as he opens the year at high Class A Visalia.
"This is a position that I love,” he said. "I’ve learned so much back there. My goal is to be able to catch in the major leagues some day.”
One knock on him entering the year was his arm strength. He said he worked during the spring with coaches J.R. House and Blake Lalli on improving his footwork on his throws, and he said he’s noticed a significant difference. The results reflected that; through five games, he had thrown out four of seven basestealers.
"It’s using almost less arm,” he said. "My ball wasn’t carrying correctly. My arm strength has always been there, but I haven’t been using it correctly.”
The bat is less of a question. Varsho uses a compact lefthanded swing to produce consistent, hard contact to all fields. Some evaluators believe he has a chance to hit for a high average and easily reach double digits in home runs. He’s also a good runner—and not just for a catcher.
"Even people in our organization, this was the first spring they saw me, and they all were, like, jaw-dropped,” Varsho said. "They asked, ‘Where did you learn to run like that?' "
Many believe Varsho has the athleticism to handle other positions, but the D-backs do not intend to move him.
"Catching is a position I think everybody wants to push someone off,” assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said. "You notice them the most. They don’t block a few balls and everybody is like, ‘Oh, man, you’ve got to move him off.’
"We feel like he can stay there. If you ask the industry, there will probably be some guys who say he can’t. But I think that’s probably what’s going to drive him.”
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The 18-year-old Dominican shortstop has shined at three levels this season in his U.S. debut.
>> Righthander Jon Duplantier had his season delayed by a hamstring issue, but he was throwing in the low to mid-90s at extended spring training and was due back by the end of April.
>> Righthander Tommy Eveld, who began the year on the disabled with a relatively minor elbow surgery, made his season debut at Visalia on April 16, striking out three in two scoreless innings.