The Arizona Diamondbacks optioned catcher and outfielder Daulton Varsho to Triple-A Reno on Wednesday.
Five other players were reassigned to minor league camp: pitchers Miguel Aguilar, Ryan Buchter and Seth Frankoff, along with infielders Domingo Leyba and Juniel Querecuto.
The D-backs gave the 24-year-old Varsho an extended look last season, and with no minor league baseball in 2020, a chance to keep playing. In 37 games (24 starts), Varsho hit .188 with three home runs and nine RBIs. His OPS in 115 plate appearances was .653.
Of those 24 starts, 18 came in the outfield for Varsho and six behind the plate. Ever since Varsho was a hyped-up prospect in the D-backs system, there was always a question of where the athletic player would be slotted at. Rising the ranks as a catcher, Varsho’s speed has had him play some center field both in the minor- and major-league levels.
The D-backs and manager Torey Lovullo have spoken highly of Varsho’s ability to be in both spots, but it’s clear where they want him.
“We see him as a catcher who can play other positions,” Diamondbacks assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye told The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan. “Not as a center fielder who can catch.”
Varsho sets the bar high for himself as a baseball player, as Buchanan notes.
When Varsho reported to camp, he met with manager Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, the two men with the most say over where he’ll play this season. To them, he delivered a bold proclamation.
“I told Mike and Torey, ‘My goal coming into this spring training camp is to be your No. 1 catcher and No. 1 center fielder, and then you guys can choose where you want to play me that night,’” Varsho said.
The issue with the D-backs wanting to get Varsho catching opportunities, though, is the presence of 26-year-old Carson Kelly and 36-year-old Stephen Vogt.
With minor league play back in the fold this year after being absent last season, Varsho now has a chance to get more reps where the D-backs ultimately envision him long term.