Now in Arizona, Varsho follows family trade

D-backs hope son of former big leaguer can bring 'punch' to offense

July 31st, 2020

With their offense reeling a bit after a 2-4 road trip to open the season, the D-backs selected the contract of , one of their prized prospects, ahead of Thursday’s home opener against the Dodgers.

“It was a dream come true,” said Varsho, whose father Gary played in the Majors for parts of eight seasons.

Varsho is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the D-backs system and the No. 75 prospect in their MLB Top 100 rankings.

“I mean, it's no mystery that offensively things have not been clicking,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And we just thought maybe it would give us a little bit of extra coverage or a bat off the bench to add a little punch.”

Varsho was not in the starting lineup Thursday, but that could change if the D-backs' offense doesn’t improve. Six of the nine members of the Arizona starting lineup Thursday entered the game hitting below .200. Varsho did pinch-hit, drawing a two-out walk in the ninth in Arizona's 6-3 loss.

By not calling Varsho up before now, the D-backs ensure that Varsho will not receive a full year’s service time, so it will be another six seasons before he can become a free agent. To make room on the roster, the club optioned infielder Kevin Cron to the alternate training site.

Selected in the supplemental round (68th overall) by the D-backs in the 2017 MLB Draft, Varsho has risen steadily through the system and last year won the organization’s Player of the Year Award after slashing .301/.378/.520 for Double-A Jackson.

Varsho was a catcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but he played some center field last year during the Double-A playoffs. He saw time at catcher, center field as well as left field during Summer Camp and said he is confident he can handle right as well.

“I feel comfortable playing anywhere,” Varsho said.

Varsho’s speed has allowed him to be a threat on the bases as he’s stolen 47 bases in the Minors, including 21 last year.

“I think it was the defensive versatility and the ability to command a strike zone and do what we’re looking to do from an offensive approach standpoint,” Lovullo said on why Varsho was promoted. “And you can see what's happening to us offensively right now. We’re grinding, we’re grinding hard. Overall, I think it was just his ability to play different positions and the ability to command a strike zone and give a quality at-bat is the reason why he's here.”

Coming off the bench will be something new for Varsho, but he’s already found a mentor for it in veteran outfielder Jon Jay.

“I’ve actually had some long talks with Jon Jay here,” Varsho said. “He’s going to take me a little bit under his wing and show me some of the things he does. Hopefully I can figure out a little bit of a routine that he can guide me with.”