The #4 prospect on our Diamondbacks Organizational Review heading into this year, Varsho has done little to dispel his status as the top catching prospect in the system. Following up a solid first full pro season in 2018 that included a stint in the Fall League, the athletic backstop has slashed a strong .260/.339/.446 in 56 Southern League games en route to a spot in the circuit’s all-star game.
Built like a fullback at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Varsho is stocky and muscular with surprising athleticism for such a bulky frame. An above-average runner underway who stole nearly 20 bases last season, Varsho moves incredibly well for his size and can surprise defenses with infield hits or base-hit bunts. He won’t be a 20-plus stolen base threat in the big leagues, but his eight swipes in Double-A this year demonstrate the legitimate speed Varsho will bring to the table early in his career. A left-handed hitter, he has an aggressive swing that looks to do damage and doesn’t show much willingness to shorten up with two strikes. Though he has struggled with lefties in Double-A more than he did at lower levels (.196/.33/.232), the good news is that he’s tapping into more power while cutting down on his overall swing and miss. An over-aggressive, line drive approach sprayed very hard contact around the field in my looks last year, but parts of that profile left reason to question the power production and potential for strikeouts up the ladder. Thanks to a serious increase in lift this season–Varsho’s fly ball rate is up over 15-percent–what played as hard linear contact in 2018 has turned into home run power he’s better able to actualize in games.
His athleticism shows up defensively, and it also allows more overall projection to his game behind the plate. Varsho has plus lateral agility and blocks well, developing as a receiver with the chance to get to average. The issues against lefties are worth keeping an eye on, but the arrow is otherwise pointing up for Varsho, a plus athlete at a valuable defensive spot in the midst of a power surge that looks sustainable. He’s a potential solid to above-average regular at catcher, and one of baseball’s better prospects at the position.