The Dodgers have agreed to terms with eighth round draft pick Kyle Farmer, the shortstop out of the University of Georgia whom they plan to move to catcher. The college senior signed on Monday, and reported to Camelback Ranch in Arizona on Thursday. He even tweeted out a picture of himself signing his first pro contract.
It's official, can't wait to get behind the plate!! instagram.com/p/aZq61tti2D/— Kyle Farmer (@kFarm17) June 11, 2013
The signing bonus for Farmer was not disclosed, but the slot amount for the No. 244 overall pick was $153,600.
Farmer played shortstop as a Bulldog, but when he suffered a broken foot during his senior season he did some catching drills during rehab, partly because of his limited mobility. Well, something clicked behind the plate because after the season ended the Dodgers had him tryout in Atlanta, and the Twins, Rangers and Rockies showed interest in Farmer as a catcher as well.
"It's a lot different than short, but it keeps you in the game, and I'm happy to do it," Farmer said. "Scouts always say your fastest track to the big leagues is catching. I still have a lot of work to do. I still have to practice and work as hard as I did.
"I have to transfer from taking 1,000 ground balls a day to catching a bunch of bullpens and getting used to catching, but I like it. I'll always have shortstop or second base to fall back on, but I don't plan on doing that because I want to excel as catcher and get to the big leagues as soon as possible."
Farmer hit .302/.337/.453 with a team-high 41 RBI in 2012 as a junior and faced a difficult choice: to turn pro or return to school for his senior campaign. He was drafted in the 35th round by the Yankees, but did not sign.
"It was pretty tough. I got a few calls in the first 10 rounds. It was probably the hardest decision of my life, but I'm happy I went back to school," Farmer said. "I'm closer to my degree, I have seven hours left."
As a senior, Farmer hit .290/.315/.410 with a team-leading 44 RBI. But the team went just 21-32.
"It's a long time coming for my family. We grinded it out this year at Georgia," Farmer said. "We didn't have that great of a season, but we still had fun. They were just happy for me and my future."
Farmer, 22, wasn't the first in his family in whom the Dodgers showed interest. Kyle's father, Bryan Farmer, was a high school pitcher in Atlanta and was contacted by the Dodgers about drafting as a prep pitcher, but the elder Farmer was committed to play for Ole Miss. Bryan Farmer pitched for four years in the Braves' minor league system, advancing as high as Triple-A. One of his former teammates was listed by Kyle Farmer as a baseball role model.
"Growing up playing shortstop, I always watched Derek Jeter play. I love his work ethic, they way he goes about his business, just the way he was on and off the field," Farmer said. "My dad played with Jef Blauser. He was a great influence on me."
Considering that he has never played catcher outside of a few workouts, Farmer will begin his pro career in the instructional league in Arizona.