Farmer displays versatility against NOLA
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Jul 11, 2017, 18:24
Kyle Farmer, grandson of the Honorable & Mrs. Walter J. Gex, III, of Diamondhead and Mrs. Kathleen L. Gex of Jackson, of the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers returned to the Shrine on Airline for a four-game series with the New Orleans Baby Cakes this past weekend.
While Farmer and the Dodgers (49-40) did not have a top notch offensive showing, Farmer was able to show his versatility on the diamond performing at four different positions.
On Friday, July 7th the Dodgers fell to the Baby Cakes 5-2 while Farmer manned his normal position behind the plate at catcher.
On Saturday, the Dodgers split a double-header with New Orleans. In the first game, The Dodgers stumbled 6-1 but rebounded in the second game to shut out New Orleans 2-0.
On Sunday, the Dodgers were blanked by the Baby Cakes 3-0. It was just the fourth shutout for the Dodgers this year.
The series was the final action for both squads going into the three-day All-Star break for Triple-A.
Farmer, nor the Dodgers, had a great series against New Orleans. Oklahoma City was held to just five runs and 15 hits over the four games. However, there were bright spots for Farmer in the field which gave him the opportunity to display his versatility as a utility player which is how the Dodgers organization views him.
Farmer commented, "The break is coming at a good time for all of us. The body gets tired. This break will give us a chance to rest a bit and get focused to finish strong during the second half of the season."
In Friday's game, Farmer started behind the plate at catcher where he caught a solid game.
On Saturday, Farmer started the first game at catcher but moved to second base in the fourth inning on a double-switch predicated by a pitching change. He was error free behind the plate and at second base.
The second game on Saturday was technically supposed to be Farmer's scheduled day-off. He was called into duty in the fourth inning when Max Muncy was ejected after arguing with the second base umpire following an inning-ending play. Then, later he was moved to first base to finish the game. So, in 11 innings of baseball Farmer saw action in four different positions.
Farmer recalled, "I was scheduled to have the game off but when Muncy was ejected I knew I was going in. It is difficult to switch gears in less than 10 seconds but that is what you have to do. Just like in the previous game, I had to switch gears on the fly and go from the perspective of looking out from the plate to looking in from the field. In the second game, I went from the bench and not in the game to in the mix at third base and later to first base. All of them have different perceptions of how one sees the ball."
On Sunday, Farmer rounded the weekend out behind the plate at catcher.
Despite not getting a hit in the series, much less a good pitch to take a swing at, Farmer advanced to first base on a walk in Friday's game.
He entered the weekend leading the team with a .346 average and still sports a .308 clip heading into the break. He has played 38 games with Oklahoma City getting 143 at-bats with 44 hits, 19 runs scored, 10 doubles, six homeruns, 27 RBIs and 72 total bases.
But, this past weekend was really about showing his versatility as a utility player.
Utility players are more prevalent than we may acknowledge. On Sunday, July 9th Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras took his equipment off in the fourth inning in the Cubs' 14-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates and moved to first base in a double-switch.
Catcher appears to be the position that Major League clubs are looking to for the utility aspect. Four catchers in 2016 logged more than 50 innings playing other positions; however, Farmer seems to be the exception as he is lining up around the horn in the infield this year for Oklahoma City. Only two catchers in MLB last year recorded more than 50 innings at multiple positions.
This year in his 38 games, Farmer has 171.2 innings at catcher, 95.1 innings at third base, 17.1 innings at shortstop, 11.2 innings at second base and 11 innings at first base. And, despite what appears to be a constant change of perception of seeing the ball in the field, Farmer has committed just two errors - one behind the plate and one at third base.
There have been many great utility players such as Pete Rose who played first, second and third base while also playing all three outfield positions. However, Hall of Fame inductee Joe Torre is the one that Farmer most favorably compares to as Torre was a primarily a catcher. He also played first and third base for the Braves, Cardinals and Mets before going on to a managerial career that included stops with the Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers.
Farmer continued, "Our manager has spoken with me about playing other positions. I feel that I am athletic enough to suit up at multiple positions. I make the routine plays at each position to not hurt a team. It can be a challenge to switch gears midstream and move to another position during a game. But, being challenged is what is at the core of being an athlete. I feel this is how the Dodgers see me. I am just an injury away from taking that next step. As long as I swing the bat and show great effort, it will all work out."
Remember when I wrote about only two catchers recording 50 innings or more at multiple positions last year in MLB. Well, neither of those two catchers recorded innings at all four infield positions like Farmer.
He ended with one piece of advice for the younger players looking for an avenue, "If I could tell all the young players one thing, it would be to play as many positions as possible. Learn how to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. It does not matter when you play as long as you are in the lineup and battle. At some point, you will be in position to help the team win then just make it happen."
Farmer was a four-time All-American shortstop at the University of Georgia before being drafted by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
It was then that the Dodgers saw his athleticism and started him down the road at being a catcher. Playing around the horn on the infield is like wearing an old hat for Farmer.
The Dodgers saw the potential in Farmer back in 2013. Now, Farmer is showing the Dodgers the potential. It is a matter of time for Farmer. And, that is the only thing nobody has control over.