D-backs’ Varsho acclimating to CF, working through struggles at plate

Sep 2, 2020, 5:48 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Daulton Varsho makes a leaping catch against the wall on an RBI...

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Daulton Varsho makes a leaping catch against the wall on an RBI sacrifice fly by Los Angeles Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 1 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

If there was a biggest positive takeaway for the Arizona Diamondbacks to have after Tuesday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was this play by rookie Daulton Varsho.

“I kinda surprised myself a little bit,” he said Wednesday. “At the moment, I was like, ‘Man, did I really just do that?'”

Varsho was ranked as the Diamondbacks’ No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline heading into this season and has come up through the ranks as an unusual catching prospect when it comes to his athleticism.

Drafted as a catcher and starting all his games from 2017-18 behind the plate, Varsho had some occasional time in the outfield for Double-A Jackson, including in center so the team could maximize its lineup.

Varsho hadn’t played there since summer ball in college, and as a freshman at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, spent time in left field before catching. Scouts have noted hesitations about Varsho’s development defensively at catcher, which MLB Pipeline in 2019 wrote as Varsho still having “gains to make on that front.”

“Player development has talked about his athleticism and ability to adapt,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said Wednesday. “His aptitude when given certain tasks — it’s just easy for him because he’s that athletic.”

Varsho has been using batting practice this season as his best practice for getting a read on balls and how to make a break for them.

If anything, the outfield a way for the D-backs to find the 24-year-old some more playing time. Arizona already has 26-year-old catcher Carson Kelly as a long-term piece, and with Starling Marte traded to Miami on Monday, that opens the door for more Varsho at-bats and reps in center. He started there on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

Those limited at-bats have not gone well for the rookie thus far. He has three walks and four hits in 33 plate appearances, managing two doubles as his lone extra-base hits.

Perhaps the attribute of Varsho’s that got the most buzz heading into the season was his great discipline at the plate, with the lefty being known for having a great eye and getting good contract on the ball.

Varsho sounds like a young player who will benefit a lot from getting regular at-bats, and Lovullo said Tuesday on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that he expects Varsho to be a nearly everyday player the rest of the season.

“Just trying to overdo it and putting too much pressure on myself,” Varsho said of what he’s doing wrong.

His mentality, though, isn’t getting altered because of the early struggles.

“Things are going to be OK,” he said. “I have enough confidence … to know that I’m going to be OK.”

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