Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Farmer could see some time at catcher

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 21: Kyle Farmer #52 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 21, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 21: Kyle Farmer #52 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a single in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 21, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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With Tucker Barnhart now on the injured list, Kyle Farmer is likely to be the Cincinnati Reds’ primary backup to Curt Casali.

Kyle Farmer has seen time at first, second, and third base during his first season with the Cincinnati Reds. However, he spent a lot of time during Spring Training getting reps behind the plate. With Tucker Barnhart now on the injured list, Farmer is likely to back up Curt Casali, who’ll now take over the primary catching duties for the Reds.

Scooter Gennett was activated from the 60-day injured list and Barnhart was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained oblique. This move kept both José Peraza and Phillip Ervin with the big league club and no other catcher on the roster except Casali.

Farmer spent time occupying every infield spot during Spring Training, including 7 games and 4 starts behind the plate. The 36 innings at catcher was almost double the amount of time that Farmer spent at any other position during Cactus League play.

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In his major league career, Farmer has spent a total of 4 games behind the plate. Farmer played in 3 games with 7 innings of work as a catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 and played just 2 innings during 1 game as LA’s backstop in 2018.

David Bell sounds confident that Farmer, despite receiving no time behind the plate with the Reds during the regular season, will be able to adapt should he be called upon to fill in for Curt Casali behind the plate. Here’s what Bell had to say on the subject via Reds.com:

"“To his credit, even though he hasn’t caught during the season, he’s worked very hard to stay on top of his catching skills. [Coach] J.R. [House] has done a good job of keeping him ready.”"

Though the Cincinnati Reds have yet to give a timetable for Barnhart’s return, Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Tucker could miss up to a month of action. If that timeline holds true, one would have to think that Farmer will make a few starts behind the dish or Cincinnati will be forced to call up another catcher from the minor leagues.

The Reds have no other catchers on their 40-man roster, so calling up a player from Triple-A Louisville would require a corresponding move. A move to a player like Juan Graterol from the Louisville Bats might make the most sense, but the Reds would have to remove a player like Jose Lopez from the 40-man roster and send down a player from their 25-man roster as well.

For the time being, look for Casali to get the lion’s share of starts as the Reds’ catcher and perhaps, if the Reds are ever in a blowout contest, Farmer could see some reps behind the plate. I’m sure Farmer’s versatility as a utility infielder will be compromised with the need to keep him available should Casali need to exit a game due to injury.

The injury to Barnhart is sure to require David Bell to lean on Derek Dietrich and Jose Peraza a lot more, as using Farmer as a defensive replacement is much more unlikely. Dietrich can play first, second, and third base, while Peraza can fill in at shortstop, second base, and also in the outfield.

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Kyle Farmer has enjoyed a mild amount of success in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds. Barnhart’s injury will magnify his value for this team and hopefully Farmer is up for the challenge. He’s shown some pop in his bat and a penchant for clutch hitting when given the opportunity. Here’s hoping he comes up big when called upon.