Name: Daulton Varsho
DOB: 7/2/1996 (Age 20)
Acquired: Competitive Balance Round B, 2017 MLB Draft
Most Notable Tool: Hit
Season Stats: 80 G, 342 PA, .286/.363/.451, 11 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 44 R, 19/22 SB, 30/72 BB/K for A+ Visalia
2018 Season Summary: Varsho was well on his way to establishing himself as one of the game’s best catcher prospects, but missed two months after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand when hit by a pitch. Even with the time missed, Varsho continued to show a high BABIP skill with his .341 mark mirroring his .338 output from Hillsboro. He also showed an inclination for thievery, which is unusual for catchers, with 19 SB and only getting caught 3 times. Varsho didn’t draw walks at an exceptional level in Visalia, but did in the Fall League. He continued to show a high BABIP skill although his power disappeared as pitchers were able to get him to expand his zone at times.
Tools: Hit 45/60, Power 45/55, Speed 55, Defense 45/55
A high BABIP skill combined with an average walk rate should allow Varsho to post solid OBPs. On top of that, he might not hit for a lot of power but could put in about 15-20 homers with an XBH of 8-9% overall. Varsho shows a knack for thievery on the basepaths with a career rate of 34/43, which is unusual for a catcher but should turn him into a plus baserunner anyways. His athletic ability plays well behind the plate when it comes to blocking balls in the dirt and has improved as a receiver and gunning down basestealers with 36% of stolen base attempts getting thrown out. The defense behind the plate is good enough for him to remain back there, the only reason he wouldn’t catch is if they want the bat in the lineup an extra 200 trips.
Upside: Varsho has the potential to be an everyday catcher, with above average regular upside and splitting time with other catcher prospect Dominic Miroglio. Unlike most catchers, Varsho is athletic enough to play a position other than catcher if they wanted to get his bat in the lineup and give him a breather from catching (think Buster Posey). Varsho will hit for a high average with decent power, but could make a big impact on the bases.
Risk: The biggest worry is about his long term position, but not because I don’t think Varsho can’t handle catcher. Two reasons why he could be moved off the plate include injury, although I’m not sure he has a history of concussions, or wanting to get the bat in the lineup 600 times vs. 450 times. If he can’t handle another position (e.g. left field), it will be tough to give him the extra ABs without completely cratering the defense.
Likely 2019 Assignment: Varsho would have likely been promoted to AA if not for the wrist injury, so I think that’s where he’ll start 2019 in. There he should split time with Miroglio at catcher although at that level, the DH goes away so they’ll have to give him reps somewhere if they want to continue to develop the bat. He should still get at least 70 starts behind the dish with Miroglio getting the other 70, so the question is where does Varsho play the other 35 or so games? I wouldn’t be surprised if they stick him in LF because he’s athletic enough to play a corner outfield spot if needed there.
ETA: 2020 Season