PHOENIX -- Daulton Varsho grew up around Major League Baseball and the D-backs are counting on him to become a big leaguer himself.The D-backs selected the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher with their pick in the Competitive Balance B round (68th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft on Monday night.Varsho is
PHOENIX -- Daulton Varsho grew up around Major League Baseball and the D-backs are counting on him to become a big leaguer himself.
The D-backs selected the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee catcher with their pick in the Competitive Balance B round (68th overall) of the 2017 MLB Draft on Monday night.
Varsho is the son of former big league outfielder Gary Varsho, who was drafted by the Cubs in 1982 and played for four teams over eight Major League seasons. Now a scout with the Pirates, Gary Varsho named his son after his teammate with the Phillies, catcher Darren Daulton.
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Varsho is a left-handed hitter with some offensive upside. He has a short, strong stroke, and a good feel for the strike zone, which gives him a chance to hit for average and power. He drew 46 walks this past season, while striking out 39 times.
"Very compact stroke, plus power, a catcher but believe it or not a plus runner at this time," D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "He's athletic, and the one thing about him is we really like his swing."
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Faster than most catchers, Varsho has good instincts on the bases and is agile behind the plate. He hit 11 homers in 199 at-bats this year, and had a slash line of .362/.490/.643 for the Panthers.
While the D-backs plan to send him out as a catcher and believe that he can make it to the big leagues as one, the athleticism that Varsho possesses gives him some options.
"We do know that he has the ability to potentially go to another position if we need for him to," Ladnier said. "He's super athletic -- he's a good runner, he's got good hands. Let's say he moved to the outfield. Left field, he would certainly have the range. I guess dreaming, you would say maybe potentially second base, but our intention is to try and develop him as a catcher."
And there is some development needed defensively, but that swing is something the D-backs couldn't take their eyes off.
"He's a hit over defense, I will say that," Ladnier said. "We do think he can stay behind the plate, [but] he does have to have some work. His arm is fringy/average. His swing is very short, very compact, very powerful, and [he's] another guy who uses the entire field."
Varsho is the highest pick in UW-Milwaukee history, surpassing Josh Uhen, who was selected by the Brewers in the fifth round of 2013.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. MST, with exclusive coverage beginning at 10 a.m. MST.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.