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Thread: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

  1. #1
    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    Full Name: Gary Varner, Jr. (not sure of a middle name)
    Birthplace: Cynthiana, KY
    Resides: Cynthiana, KY
    Obtained: 10th Round - 2000 Draft
    Personal: Graduated from Harrison County High School; Went to St. Catharine College (KY)
    Uniform #: 16 (Chattanooga Lookouts) - usually wears #15
    Throws: R
    Bats: R
    Height: 6'
    Weight: 180
    Age: 25
    DOB: 12-07-80

    Up-to-date stats:

    http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/a...pbp&pid=448300

    Interesting facts:

    Noochie’s nickname is taken from his father, who is called “Nooch”. Noochie shares a birthday with Johnny Bench. His DOB is also a day before John Lennon was murdered.

    Personal observations: [lifted from a previous RedsZone post] Unfortunately, for Noochie he's been jerked from one organization to another-he was everybody's favorite PTBNL. So being 25 years old and still in AA ball is very misleading. He was playing for the AAA Tuscon Sidewinders (D'Backs) 2 years ago hitting over .300 but was sent back down to El Paso (AA at the time) for a variety of reasons. I saw him last year playing for the Smokies (AA D'Backs)-one game. I was staying in Pidgeon Forge and it was the Labor Day weekend. Definately disappointed that he was there - but he looked fine and had 1 hit in the game, IIRC. I tried to find out about him in ST this year and feared that he retired. Was very happy that the Reds took him back (and that the D'Backs released him). A lot of water is under the bridge and there are others, both on the Lookouts and the Bats, that are ahead of him because he is really starting over with the Reds-but not in the Southern League where he has played for other teams. He reminds me of a Brady Clark/Chris Denorfia/Ryan Freel type of player. Dare I say "scrappy" ballplayer? He does K a lot - but his real ability, IMHO, is RISP - that was what I thought would get him a cup of coffee when he was in AAA.

    I have some articles and pictures of Noochie and other former Dragons that I will post along with the profiles.
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 17-16
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

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  3. #2
    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    Call him Noochie
    Varner’s nickname makes him instant favorite

    Erie SeaWolves fans have latched on to right fielder Noochie Varner because, let's face it, how can you root against someone named Noochie?

    It also doesn't hurt that Varner was batting .378 after 18 games and has been one of the biggest surprises in the Detroit Tigers' system so far.

    Under ideal circumstances, the 22-year-old Varner might have started the season with high Class A Lakeland, his expected next step after spending the entire 2002 season in the low Class A Midwest League. The Tigers didn't have that kind of time.

    So when they needed a corner outfielder in Erie, they turned to Varner, the somewhat less celebrated member of the trade that sent big-league pitcher Brian Moehler to the Reds for highly regarded prospect David Espinosa.

    Espinosa, who has a major-league contract, is in Lakeland this season. Varner has passed him for now, and he is erasing any doubt the Tigers might have had about skipping him over the Florida State League.

    "I don't want to get too excited too soon," Tigers minor league hitting coach Tom Runnells said. "But he's got a competitive fire about him. He's the type of kid that really battles and doesn't give in. He can go 0-for-3 and that fourth at-bat he's grinding really hard to get that one knock. Just the way his makeup is as a player allows him the luxury of competing at a higher level than maybe he's supposedly ready for."

    Varner, who bats right-handed, has had success hitting to the opposite field. He went 4-for-4 Monday against Altoona. One of his hits went up the middle, and two others were to right. The effort earned him dinner on Runnells, who was more than happy to treat.

    For his part, Varner said facing better pitching has helped him at the plate, not hurt him.

    "I'm a pretty aggressive hitter, and the pitchers here are around the plate a lot," Varner, a Kentuckian, said through a syrupy drawl. "That's working to my advantage. In the lower leagues you've got guys that just throw it. They don't know where it's going. It actually was tougher when facing guys like that."

    Varner has only one home run after hitting 12 in the Midwest League in 2002. But the Tigers believe his power will come, and Runnells thinks he could hit 20-25 homers a year in the big leagues.

    Varner also has an unorthodox open stance, which he says helps him see pitches because he is right-eye dominant.

    "You watch a lot of big-league hitters and some of them are standing crazy," Varner said. "But by the time they make contact with the ball, they're pretty much the same place as someone who just stands straight. Where you end up is what's important."

    His stance isn't something the Tigers are concerned about as long as he continues to hit.

    "He makes it work," Runnells said. "He's a strong kid and he's got an idea up there. Plus he has an awful lot of confidence. Sometimes that's enough to cover up any mechanical flaws a player might have - not that he has many. It's that confidence that made us feel that he would find a way to compete at this level, and he has."

    As for his nickname, Varner, whose given name is Gary, says it's something passed on from his father, Gary Sr.

    "When he was in school everyone started calling him 'Nooch,' " Varner said. "He can't even remember why. So when I came along I was 'Little Noochie.' I never knew what it meant, but it stuck."

    Happily for the Tigers, Varner has, too.



    JOHN DUDLEY can be reached at 870-1677. Send e-mail john.dudley@timesnews.com.

    Last changed: April 27. 2003 1:48AM
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 17-16
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

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    Waiting for a tour/album KittyDuran's Avatar
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    Re: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    Whitecaps win on, off the field
    Saturday, August 31, 2002
    By Alan Babbitt
    The Grand Rapids Press

    The West Michigan Whitecaps certainly aren't laboring right now.

    The surging Whitecaps kicked off Labor Day weekend in impressive fashion Friday night in the opener of their final regular-season series of the season. They first welcomed an all-star addition to their lineup then blasted the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 11-3 in front of 9,320 fans at Fifth Third Ballpark.
    "What a day," Whitecaps manager Phil Regan said after his team extended its winning streak to seven games and claimed its 12th victory in 13 games.
    Friday began with news the Detroit Tigers had acquired Midwest League all-star center fielder Noochie Varner and assigned him to their pennant-chasing Class A affiliate.

    The Cincinnati Reds sent Varner to the Tigers to complete an earlier trade for pitcher Brian Moehler. The transaction switched the promising 21-year-old from Cynthiana, Ky., between two teams vying for the second-half Eastern Division crown.

    The Whitecaps (41-26) lead Dayton by a game with three contests remaining. Regardless of who wins the division, the two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs because the Dragons clinched a spot Friday with Lansing's loss at Quad City. The best-of-three series will begin Tuesday in Dayton, then return to Fifth Third Ballpark for two games if necessary.
    Varner, who took the roster spot of injured outfielder Clint Kolodzey, has been one of the MWL's top offensive players this season. He entered play Friday fifth in batting average at .310 and fourth in stolen bases with 37.
    This season he produced 15 runs in 16 games against the Whitecaps. He smacked two three-run homers at Fifth Third Ballpark on Aug. 1 during a 13-12 Dragons loss.

    "I got the call, and I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark," said Regan, who's already known for his love of baseball. "My wife (Carol) asked, 'What did you do? Take happy pills?'
    "I'm really happy to have (Varner) here. He's a hard-nose player, aggressive. He'll fit right in."
    The addition of Varner gives the Whitecaps a player who's on the MWL's postseason all-star team. The league's managers shut them out from any honors, despite fielding one of the best teams in the league.
    Varner batted sixth in his Whitecaps debut and went 2-for-4 with an RBI triple. The extra-base blast to deep center capped a six-run rally in the fifth that put the Whitecaps ahead 8-1.
    "Any time you get traded, it's going to be kind of weird going to a new team," Varner said. "But the guys welcomed me. I'm glad to be here and I'll do my best to help the team win."
    Varner's two hits were part of a 14-hit attack. First baseman Juan Tejeda stroked a two-run single in the fifth to raise his league-leading and franchise-record RBI total to 105.
    The Whitecaps received three hits apiece from second baseman Juan Francia and right fielder Jason Knoedler. Francia also contributed three RBIs. Knoedler played in right to accommodate Varner.
    The run support was more than enough for Whitecaps starter Chad Petty (15-10).
    The left-hander overcame some wildness in the second and surrendering a two-run homer to Hunter Brown in the sixth to earn the decision. The seven-inning performance moved Petty into a tie for the MWL lead for wins with Peoria's Tyler Johnson.
    WHITECAPS NOTES
    MATT COENEN is scheduled today to try join his Whitecaps teammate Petty among the league leaders for wins by a pitcher, despite a strained oblique muscle in his right side. The injury occurred during his Aug. 23 start at South Bend but Coenen says he's OK.
    RYAN RABURN is dealing with shin splints and an apparent calcium deposit in his leg. Yet it is not expected to prevent him from playing in either the last three games of the regular season or the postseason.
    VARNER'S FIRST name is Gary, and he is named after his father. He got his nickname through his father as well. High school buddies of the elder Varner called him "Nooch."
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 17-16
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

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    Re: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    Some pics...
    Last edited by KittyDuran; 03-25-2007 at 05:29 PM.
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 17-16
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

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    Re: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    OK - I was bored and was searching all threads started by ME and came across my profile of Noochie a few years ago. Then I did some more searching on the net and came across the following article which is interesting on how trades are perceived after a few years...

    http://www.brewcrewball.com/2008/11/...ber-noochie-va

    Do You Remember...Noochie Varner?
    by TheJay on Nov 23, 2008 2:00 AM CST

    Fans may be forgiven if they can't place the name Noochie Varner in Brewers history. Varner never was a first round pick, never played in a big-league game, and never appeared on a major league 40-man roster. In eight seasons in the minor leagues, Varner reached AAA only once. Without his endearing nickname, he might be completely forgotten in baseball. But despite not making a direct impact at the big league level, Varner is, in a tiny and mostly coincidental way, responsible for the Brewers' recent success.

    Gary Lee "Noochie" Varner was born on December 7, 1980, in Cynthiana, Kentucky, a small town located on the banks of the South Fork of the Licking River northeast of Lexington and just down the road from Oddville. The seat of Harrison County, Cynthiana is known for, among other things, being over 200 years old, a meteorite fall in 1877, and being "a city as nice as its name!" Also in Cynthiana, the Harrison County High School baseball team had developed a tradition of winning by the time Noochie Varner suited up. The Breds had won the state championship in 1993 and looked poised to make a run in 1997. Led by a group of players including sophomore Varner, the Breds went 40-1 and captured the state title. The Breds weren't done, going 33-6 the next year en route to a repeat championship. Varner, fresh off hitting .480 for the 1998 season, drove in three runs and hit a home run in the state title game. Showing high school fame is fleeting at best, the non-champion 1999 squad got little lasting press.

    That didn't stop Varner from playing baseball at the next level. Upon his high school graduation, he headed for St. Catharine College, a Kentucky junior college. His performance for the Patriots was good enough for the Cincinnati Reds to draft him in the 10th round of the 2000 draft. Drafted sixteen picks behind future Rockies shortstop Clint Barmes and eighteen picks ahead of future Brewers outfielder Corey Hart, Varner was on his way to the major leagues.

    Though he had played third base in high school, the Reds moved Noochie to the outfield when he struggled defensively during his first full season as a pro. His bat had little trouble making the switch: in 2001, he hit .351/.409/.536 for the Rookie-level Billings Mustangs. Bumped up to Dayton in the Midwest League for the 2002 season, Varner shone once again. He hit .309/.350/.466 with 37 stolen bases and recorded 11 outfield assists. Noochie also made his first pro All-Star team, starting with guys like Edwin Encarnacion and Shawn Hill in his team's victory. At the tail end of the year, Noochie was picked as one of the players to be named later in a trade with the Tigers for Brian Moehler.

    Despite having just acquired him and promoting him to AA for the 2003 season, the Tigers deemed Noochie expendable. A mix of Gene Kingsale and Andres Torres in center field on the big club was predictably terrible, so when the Brewers made Alex Sanchez available, Detroit jumped. On May 27, the Brewers shipped Sanchez to Detroit in exchange for two minor leaguers: LHP Chad Petty and Mr. Varner. Brewers fans know the story: waiver claim CF Scott Podsednik thrived and went on to be voted (second place for) Rookie of the Year. Sanchez was pretty much forgotten.

    Varner's season in Huntsville was forgettable as well. The former .300 hitter struggled to simply get on base at a .300 clip and he wasn't developing much power. On the bright side, he was only 22 in AA and he had reduced his strikeout total. Whatever he took from the season, there was no doubt he was once again expendable. On December 15, 2004, the transactions wire contained Noochie's name yet again. For the third time in fifteen months, Varner was on the move, this time as part of the Richie Sexson trade between Milwaukee and Arizona. Along with Sexson and Shane Nance, Noochie was headed to Arizona in exchange for major leaguers Junior Spivey, Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano, and Jorge de la Rosa. Brewers fans would eventually look proudly upon the deal, but for Noochie it was becoming more of the same.

    He started 2004 in El Paso of the Texas League, completing the circuit of AA leagues. An excellent start to the season earned him a promotion to AAA Tucson, one step away from the majors. He thrived in the desert, hitting .321/.393/.443 with six home runs in 100 games. Unfortunately, that was the closest he would get to the majors. In 2005, he was assigned to new AA affiliate Tennessee because of a logjam of Diamondbacks prospects in Tucson. He put up a solid season back in the Southern League but all it earned him was a release from the Arizona organization. He signed with the Reds for 2006 and played well for the Chattanooga Lookouts, making an All-Star team and being named the league player of the month for May. His contract was not renewed, however, and he moved into the Houston farm system. A torrid start in the Texas League earned him a spot on his third pro All-Star team, but a second half slump was the beginning of the end. By the end of August 2007, Varner had been released by the Astros.

    Noochie hasn't appeared in a minor league game since the Astros let him go. His career minor league line at this point is .299/.355/.432 with 53 HR, 417 RBI, and 81 steals. He is two hits away from a .300 career minors batting average. Unfortunately, he seems to have disappeared from baseball, at least in 2008. He just might still be active in the online poker circuit, though. Whatever Noochie is doing these days, he is still part of the Brewers success. The trade that brought him into the Brewers organization didn't have a lasting impact on the Crew outside of Varner: Chad Petty was awful in his half-season as a Brewers farmhand and soon found himself elsewhere. The trade that sent him to Arizona is still alive in the Brewers clubhouse today. Chris Capuano is still with the team, Craig Counsell went away and came back, and Lyle Overbay was sent (with others) to Toronto in exchange for Dave Bush, Corey Koskie (acquired in different deal), Zach Jackson and Gabe Gross. Bush is still on the team, Gross started 2008 with the club, and Zach Jackson was part of the CC Sabathia trade.

    You could very well scoff and say Varner was just a throw-in when the Brewers acquired and traded him. It's not as if those trades were impossible without Noochie. Most teams have low-minors outfielders who hit pretty well, or at least enough to be a respectable part of a major league trade. Maybe you think Noochie's involvement in both deals was coincidence. As for me, I think that Noochie Varner still deserves a little mention in the recent history of the Brewers. The next time Dave Bush takes the mound at Miller Park, let your mind wander from the game for a little while and ponder Noochie Varner, a forgotten part of a trade that still benefits the Brewers today.

    Noochie Links and Such:
    Noochie Varner's Career Stats
    Noochie feature from 2007 at the Corpus Christi Hooks official site
    Cynthiana Democrat story from 1998 about Harrison County's back-to-back titles
    St. Catharine (KY) alumni in professional baseball

    The first picture is from the archives of Cincy Reds Cards. The second is from a Southern Bases PDF that mentions his selection as Southern League Player of the Month for May 2006.
    2014 Reds record when I'm attending: 17-16
    2014 Dragons record when I'm attending: 2-1
    "We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops." - Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran

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    Re: PROSPECT PROFILE: Noochie Varner

    Thanks for digging this out. I recall following his progress at Dayton where he seemed to have a bright future. It is always sad to see a ML dream fade. In this case, it is not clear why he failed to get a shot along the way. He may have been one of the unfortunate "good" ball players who simply failed to fit a ML profile. Although he compares favorably to a Ryan Freel, Noochie's inability to play on the infield may have limited his utility as a backup. I did notice a drop in his base stealing numbers after Dayton. Perhaps the rest of his game was not strong enough to overcome that decline. Then again, maybe there is a lot of luck involved in being in the right organization at the right time.


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