The Reds blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers brought some big names to Cincinnati’s clubhouse. Outfielders Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and starting pitcher Alex Wood could fill a marquee but perhaps the most intriguing player in the deal is Kyle Farmer.
The 28-year old is multi-tasking this spring. Farmer has started games at shortstop, third base and catcher. Catcher and shortstop use entirely different skills and Farmer is performing both well in camp to the amazement of his teammates.
“It was fun working with him,” said Tanner Roark, who pitched to the versatile Farmer on Monday. “I am looking forward to see him play shortstop.”
The variety of skills has impressed rookie manager David Bell.
“It is unique,” Bell said. “We heard he could do both. You can tell he’s played shortstop with the way he uses his feet and hands.”
The Dodgers drafted Farmer as a catcher in the eighth round of the 2013 draft, even though he made 211 starts in 212 appearances at shortstop at the University of Georgia.
“I’ve been a shortstop my entire life. My dad coached me and made me a shortstop,” Farmer said. “I started hearing catching rumors in college. My coach David Perno kept me at shortstop because he loved me there. I got drafted as a catcher. In 2015 (in the minor leagues) I got the nerve to ask if I could play some infield, too. I had the same manager, Bill Hasselman, (at Triple-A) Oklahoma City. I looked at the lineup one day and he put me at shortstop. I was ecstatic.”
In limited games the last two seasons in the Major Leagues, Farmer has made four appearances at catcher and 22 in the infield but none at shortstop.
The Reds are moving Farmer around this spring. He caught twice, played third base and shortstop in four defensive appearances. He appeared as a designated hitter in one game. Farmer is vying with several players for a bench spot on Opening Day roster.
He has a hot bat this spring as well, hitting .500 with a home run, three doubles and a triple. Farmer has at least a hit in all six appearances this spring (through Wednesday’s games), including a single and a double in his last appearance Monday against the Diamondbacks.
Farmer has 88 big league at bats the last two seasons with the Dodgers, hitting .250 with four doubles and a triple. He spent most of the season at Oklahoma City last year, hitting .288 in 288 at bats with seven home runs.
Performance aside, Farmer has enjoyed the greeting from his new teammates.
“Coming into a new organization and meeting a lot of new guys, it’s been fun,” Farmer said. “They welcomed me with open arms. Playing against guys like Phil Ervin and Amir (Garrett) in low A and rookie ball, it’s been cool being on the same team. It is a good group of guys.”