Daulton is the son of former big league outfielder Gary Varsho.
Daulton was named after Darren Daulton, his dad's teammate with the Phillies. His middle name is John, after former Phillies bench coach, John Vukovich. (Coincidentally, both Vukovich and Daulton died from brain tumors.)
"There was no doubt about it that he was going to be named Daulton. He was caring. He was loving. He exemplified everything that Philadelphia Phillies baseball was all about. It's about loyalty. It's about love. It's about pulling for one another. It's about giving everything you have that night and preparing to win." –Gary Varsho to the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017.
Daulton Varsho has countless memories of the game. His favorite occurred in the early 2000s when his father was the bench coach for the Phillies.
“My favorite memory was when I was little, I hit with Jim Thome,” said Varsho. “He’s probably going to be a hall of famer here soon. He took me to the batting cage a lot and would flip me balls. I would hit and he’d help me out. It’s really good memories I’ll always have.”
Varsho has also leaned on his father for advice, recalling one simple, but impactful, statement his father once told him.
“There are ones that are humble and there are ones that are about to be,” Varsho said. “I live by it every day.”
Daulton's sister, Taylor, played basketball at Colorado State and the University of Sioux Falls. And his other sister Andie played softball at Purdue.
In Varsho's senior year at Marshfield High School in Wisconsin, he was First Team All-State after he hit .462 with 31 RBI and 6 home runs for the Tigers. And he stole 17 bases and scored 35 runs.
Daulton's hobbies include hunting, fishing, and hanging out with family and friends.
June 2017: Varsho was the D'Backs second round pick, out of the Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Daulton signed for $880,000 via scout Rick Sort.
2018 Season: Daulton hit .286/.363/.451, with 11 homers and 19 steals, over 80 games in the California League, where he also threw out 40.3 percent of attempted base-stealers. The numbers reflect Varsho's unique athleticism and well-rounded set of tools, the combination of which could make him the rare dual-threat backstop at the highest level.
In 2018, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Varsho as the 5th-best prospect in the D'Backs' organization. He moved up to #3 in the spring of 2019. But in 2020, Daulton was named the #1 prospect in the D'Backs farm system.
In 2021, Varsho was #2 in the Diamondbacks' system—behind only OF Corbin Carroll.
July 2019: Varsho represented the D-Backs at the Futures All-Star Game.
2019 Season: The Diamondbacks named Varsho the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. He is the first catcher to win organizational Player of the Year in club history.
Varsho, 23, hit .301 (119-for-396)/.378 OBP/.520 SLG with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 18 home runs, 58 RBI, 42 walks, 21 stolen bases and 85 runs scored in 108 games for the Double-A Southern League Champion Jackson Generals.
He ranked among SL leaders in runs (1st), slugging pct. (1st), OPS (1st, .898) average (3rd), on-base pct. (4th) home runs (T-5th), hits (T-6th), doubles (T-6th) and stolen bases (T-9th). He was named a Southern League All-Star, a Baseball America Minor League All-Star, and participated in the 2019 All-Star Futures Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
A native of Chili, Wisconsin, the lefthanded hitting catcher was named MVP of the SL Championship Series after hitting .300 (6-for-20) with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored in 5 games.
2020 Season: Daulton performed well at summer camp in July before earning a big league callup a week into the season. Things didn’t go well initially, but the competitiveness of Varsho’s at-bats improved as the season progressed. He posted an .822 OPS over his final 74 plate appearances.
Varsho doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors, but he also doesn’t have a clear role on the 2021 big league roster. He’ll try to win a spot in spring training and carry over his strong finish from 2020. (Nick Piecoro - BAPH - Spring, 2021)
In parts of three seasons with the Cubs, outfielder Gary Varsho hit three home runs in 99 career games at Wrigley Field. His son, Daulton, made his Wrigley Field debut on July 23, 2021, and in two games at the Friendly Confines, he already has a pair of home runs.
Varsho went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI on July 24th. In the first two games against the Cubs, Varsho went 4-for-8 with a double, two homers and six RBI, accounting for all but four of the runs scored by Arizona.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo worked with Gary Varsho in Cleveland’s player development department, and he knows how proud Gary is of his son. "I know that there was half of his hometown probably in the stands today," Lovullo said, referring to Marshfield, Wis. "That's what makes [his performance] even more impressive. He's been blocking it out the past couple days, had some good at-bats and meaningful moments. So I'm sure his dad and his mom and the rest of his crew today will get a chance to celebrate with him, and they should be very proud of him."
Daulton was unavailable after the game, because he and his family had to hustle out for their evening plans.
"As far as how he's playing, it's great to see," said D-backs starter Merrill Kelly. "I mean, he's a hard-nosed kid, he works real hard. He cares a lot. So I think with the consistent playing time, I think you're going to see more of that." (Gilbert - mlb.com - 7/25/2021)
2021 Season: Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .302 with 187 runs, 46 home runs, 167 RBI and 49 steals over 985 at-bats. Varsho walked 8.7% of the time with a favorable strikeout rate (16.4). His highlight season (.301 with 85 runs, 18 home runs, 58 RBI and 21 steals over 396 at-bats) came at AA in 2019.
The Diamondbacks failed to commit to Varsho over the first half of last year (9-for-62 with eight runs, three RBI and one stolen base). However, his bat played well over the final three months (.275 with 33 runs, 11 home runs, 35 RBI and five stolen bases over 222 at-bats).
He held his own against left-handed pitching (.293 with three home runs and 11 RBI over 82 at-bats). Varsho ranked 49th in launch angle (18.0), but his hard-hit rate (39.9) came in at about the league average. His approach moved above the league average. (S Childs - Feb. 17, 2022)
2022 Season: Varsho had a career year, his first season playing outfield an overwhelming majority of the time.
In 151 games, he posted career highs with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, a 4.6 fWAR and 19 defensive runs saved (DRS).
Perhaps the most eye-popping of those numbers is his 19 DRS, which tied for first in baseball among outfielders. He did that in spite of ranking 47th in defensive innings out of 51 qualifiers (minimum 900 defensive innings). (J. Leandre - Oct. 10, 2022)
Dec 26, 2022: Blue Jays Player Poised to Break Out in 2023: OF Dalton Varsho
Varsho lands in Toronto already an incredibly valuable player, fresh off a season where he posted a 4.6 FanGraphs WAR and led all MLB outfielders with 18 Outs Above Average. With the Blue Jays, Varsho could take that next step offensively. The 26-year-old hit .235 with 27 home runs and a .745 OPS last season, but hitting at Rogers Centre and in the AL East’s friendly stadiums should help those numbers. Add in another year of development, some seriously improved lineup protection and a potential shift away from catching duties, and there are plenty of arrows pointing up for Varsho the hitter. –Keegan Matheson
- June 2017: Varsho was the D'Backs second round pick, out of the Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Daulton signed for $880,000 via scout Rick Sort.
- Dec 23, 2022: The Diamondbacks traded C Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays for SS Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and C Gabriel Moreno.
- Jan 13, 2023: Varsho and the Jays avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal for $3 million.
|Birth City:||Marshfield, WI|
|Draft:||Diamondbacks #2 - 2017 - Out of Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee|
Varsho can hit. He is a bat-first lefthanded-hitting catcher. He has short arm and a short, strong and compact lefthanded stroke and manages the strike zone well, giving him a chance to hit for average and power—enough for double-digit home runs per year. He has a 55 grade hit tool, to go with 50 grade power.
Daulton got caught in between during many of his early at-bats, like many hitters in their first big league exposure, and was either too aggressive or too passive. He got more comfortable as the season progressed and began showing the decisive, compact swing that has long yielded predictions of an above-average hitter with average power. (Nick Piecoro - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Varsho's blend of power and speed makes him somewhat of a rarity as a catcher, and he flirted with a 20-homer, 20-steal season in 2019 before finishing with 18 and 21, respectively. A left-handed hitter, Varsho employs an aggressive approach but also manages the zone well, consistently puts together quality at-bats and gets on base at a high clip due to his penchant for drawing walks. His short, compact swing yields hard contact to all fields and fuels his projection as an above-average hitter, and evaluators are increasingly bullish about his chances of developing at least average game power.
Varsho's above-average wheels and aggressive mindset on the basepaths separate him from most catchers, and he was successful in all but eight steal attempts (40-for-48) during his first two full seasons. (Spring, 2020)
Daulton produces hard contact and uses the entire field. He has a knack for finding the barrel.
Scouts like the good extension Varsho gets out front, generating loft on the ball.
With short arms producing a compact lefthanded swing, he has a mature approach, a good feel for the strike zone and makes consistent loud contact, showing power to all fields.
Varsho takes big, aggressive swings early in counts that produce line drives, and he’ll put a bunt down when opponents shift him. Concerns that his aggressiveness will be exploited at higher levels. (Spring, 2019)
Beginning in July 2019, Varsho rode a hot streak all the way to the top of the Southern League leaderboards.
"It was just trusting my approach and consistently sticking with it every day,” Varsho said in Sept., 2019. "It’s knowing what a pitcher is doing, going up there and trusting that my hands are good enough and quick enough to get to every pitch and not beat myself up over a bad swing, because here comes the next swing.”
"Those look like numbers from back when my dad was playing,” farm director Mike Bell said, referencing his father Buddy Bell, who peaked in 1979. "That’s what we’re looking for. He’s doing everything we talk about as an organization with his ability to get on base and drive the ball.”
August 22, 2021: Daulton hit the 11th home run of his young career, putting him one ahead of his dad, Gary, who played eight seasons in the big leagues.
"I didn’t even notice that one," Varsho said. "He’ll probably be pretty thrilled about it. He had some pretty good homers himself. Lucky enough to be able to do this up here and have some success." (Gilbert - mlb.com)
Daulton has good instincts for the game, on both sides of the ball. You can put him anywhere on the field and he’ll adjust pretty quick. He’s just a ball player. He gets comps with Austin Barnes, who can handle second base or the outfield, as well as catch.
Varsho is a natural catcher. He can also play center field, but his 45 grade arm strength was more noticeable in the outfield than behind the plate. (Spring, 2021)
Varsho is lauded for his athleticism, blocking and receiving behind the plate, though the jury is still out about whether he'll remain there long-term because his arm strength and catch-and-throw skills are both average at best. While the D-backs believe Varsho will eventually make it all work, they've also remained open to the possibility of utilizing his athleticism at other positions, and he more than held his own as Jackson's starting center fielder late last season. Regardless of where he lands on defense, Varsho's offensive package gives him the potential to carve out an everyday role at the highest level. (Spring 2020)
Team officials believe Varsho has the athleticism to play a variety of positions. To underscore this point, they auditioned him in center field in the closing days of August 2019. And he easily holds his own there.
Scouts and executives both inside and outside the organization believe he can be at least an average 50 grade defensive major league catcher. He is athletic, a decent receiver, blocks well and compensates for below-average arm strength with a quick transfer that leads to at least average times on throws to second base.
"I don’t think anyone thinks he can’t catch in the big leagues,” assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye said in 2019. "But I also don’t think anyone knows where his future position will be. His bat will play somewhere.”
Behind the plate, Varsho is a hard-nosed catcher who moves well laterally and receives well but has a fringe-average arm with below-average accuracy. (Spring, 2020)
He's athletic and energetic behind the plate, and his quick transfer and throwing accuracy make up for average-at-best arm strength. (Spring, 2019)
Varsho displays excellent agility, receiving and blocking well. Some scouts wonder if he can stay at catcher because he lacks size and has below-average arm strength, though his quick feet help him get rid of throws in a hurry. He has such quick actions that registers average (50 grade) 1.9-2.0 second pop times to second base because of a quick transfer. (Spring, 2018)
Daulton is quite adept at blocking balls. He has uncanny athleticism for a catcher.
Varsho's short stature allows him to set a low target.
If catching doesn't pan out, Varsho runs well enough to be a solid left fielder, and he might even be an option in center field or at second base.
Daulton can’t say what it was that drew him to catching. His dad, Gary, was an outfielder, playing parts of eight seasons in the majors and Daulton grew up around big league clubhouses. He remembers locking in, for whatever reason, on the guys behind the plate.
“I’ve always had a passion for it,” said Varsho, 21. “I guess I just learned to love it and kind of always wanted to be one. This is the position that I love. I've learned so much back there. My goal is to be able to catch in the Major Leagues some day."
One knock on him entering the year was arm strength. He said he worked during the spring with coaches J.R. House and Blake Lalli on improving his footwork, and he said he’s noticed a significant difference. The results reflected that; through seven games, he had thrown out six of 10 base-stealers.
“It’s using almost less arm,” he said. “My ball wasn’t carrying correctly. My arm strength has always been there, but I haven’t been using it correctly.” (Nick Piecoro - Baseball America - 5/18/2018)
Daulton, the son of Gary Varsho, has all the attributes of someone whose father spent parts of eight seasons in the majors. He’s athletic and instinctual with a high baseball IQ.
“He’s a legit, everyday major leaguer, I think,” D'Backs farm director Mike Bell said. “He’s athletic, explosive. He has power and speed. He’s a good framer, and everything he does behind the plate is solid. He’s got the whole package.”
“The arm strength is what people question, but I think it’s enough because of his athleticism—his quick feet and quick release,” a rival scout said. “I think he’ll present the ball well and be an above-average blocker. I think he’s going to have enough to be a solid defender.” (Nick Piecoro - Baseball America - 8/24/2018)
- In 2018, Varsho’s receiving earned plaudits and he showed above-average arm strength with a quick release when he got his feet set, though his throws sailed when he rushed. He threw out 37 percent of base-stealers and was particularly adept at back-picking.
“His ability to back-pick at any base at any time I think puts a lot of hesitation in baserunners, and he can help you get out of innings,” Modesto manager Mitch Canham said in 2018. “And then watching him block behind the plate, he’s very efficient. He keeps everything in front of him, provides a low target and does a good job keeping strikes strikes and making borderline pitches strikes as well.”
- Daulton’s athleticism and agility are strengths here and he gets high marks for his blocking and receiving, though he was charged with 12 passed balls in 2019. He did handle a late assignment in center field at the end of the year. And the D-backs have tried him out in all three outfield spots in 2020 intra-squad games and workouts, so don’t be shocked to see him moving around a bit in 2020. (Mayo - mlb.com - 7/30/2020)
- 2022: Varsho plays both catcher and outfield, an unusual combo in MLB.
Daulton is a whole lot faster than most catchers, posting plus run times from home to first and showing good instincts on the basepaths. He has 55 grade speed.
2019 season: Daulton is a rarity as a catcher in the sense that he possesses above-average speed and knows how to apply his wheels on the basepaths. He swiped 21 bags last year after a 19-steal full-season debut. And he has been successful in 82.5 percent (47 for 57) of his steal attempts in three pro seasons.
- Daulton’s speed has allowed him to be a threat on the bases. He has stolen 47 bases in the Minors, including 21 in 2019. (Gilbert - mlb.com - 7/30/2020)
June 15-Aug. 3, 2018: Varsho was on the DL with a fractured hamate bone.
May 27, 2022: Varsho was struck in the upper back by a pitch from Ryan Pepiot leading off the first inning and was replaced by pinch-hitter Jordan Luplow in the fifth. The X-rays were negative, manager Torey Lovullo said, but Varsho was listed as day to day.