Once blind-sided, Farmer adjusts to catching

No. 20 Dodgers prospect goes from film to MWL All-Star starting role

Kyle Farmer was the starting shortstop for the University of Georgia before transitioning to catcher. (Emily Jones/MiLB.com)

By Brian Lester / Special to MiLB.com | June 17, 2014 8:13 PM

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. ---- Kyle Farmer is accustomed to big moments.

Six years ago, the Great Lakes Loons catcher was in the Hollywood spotlight, making a cameo appearance in the hit movie, The Blind Side.

On Tuesday night, Farmer was center stage again, this time as a starter in the 50th Midwest League All-Star Game at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The No. 20 Dodgers prospect stood outside the Eastern Division dugout before the start of batting practice on a sun-splashed June afternoon and talked about the experience.

"I am very honored to have this opportunity to play in such a big game," said Farmer, who hit .305 and drove in 34 runs during the first half of the season for the Loons (34-36). "It's fun being around the guys you play against in this setting. I'm enjoying the moment."

Back in 2008, he was enjoying a different kind of moment.

As a senior at Marist High School in Atlanta, one of his friends from another school asked him whether he was interested in trying out for a movie role in The Blind Side.

It was for the role of the practice quarterback. Farmer figured he could play it. After all, he actually was a high school quarterback who had led his team to the state championship game.

"That was an awesome opportunity," Farmer said. "I got to meet Sandra Bullock. I have a lot of respect for movie stars now. It takes a lot of work to be one."

Speaking of stars, meeting Bullock was quite an experience.

"I was very nervous," Farmer said with a laugh. "She is a very pretty lady. But I had a lot of fun being around her. She even gave me advice."

Farmer said his teammates often joke with him about his brush with movie stardom.

"My teammates joke around about it quite a bit and have asked to see the clips on YouTube," Farmer said.

Being a Minor League baseball player and being on the set of a movie are two very different experiences. Farmer, however, has been able to use his movie experience to his advantage in baseball.

"As an actor, you need a lot of patience," Farmer said. "I learned a lot about being patient because you go through a lot of takes filming a scene. It's helped me be more patient as a baseball player. It takes a lot of patience to succeed in this game."

Farmer has taken the longer road to this point in his career.

Rather than go straight to professional baseball out of high school, he went to the University of Georgia. He was the starting shortstop in all but one of the 212 games in his collegiate career.

He hit .290 or better each year with the Bulldogs, racking up 63 doubles along the way, and ended his run with the best career fielding percentage by a shortstop (.968).

For some, the decision to play pro ball or go to school can be a difficult one. It wasn't for Farmer, who was inspired by his family to go the college route. His dad and uncles all played Southeastern Conference baseball as well.

"My dad wanted me to go to college, and my family was hoping I would go to Ole Miss because they went there too," he said. "But I wanted to be closer to home and chose Georgia."

Because Farmer was planning to play at Georgia, he wasn't paid for his appearance in The Blind Side. But his collegiate experience was worth more than any amount of money.

"It was the best four years of my life," Farmer said. "I had great coaches, was around great players and learned a lot that helped prepare me for professional baseball. The competition is great in the SEC. It definitely got me ready for the next level."

Farmer said he has leaned on his father for advice, especially since his dad was an SEC champion at Ole Miss and played four years of Minor League baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization.

"His best advice is to take it one day at a time," he said. "You can't control everything. You have to worry about the day as it comes and that is what I always try to do."

Farmer has had to make his share of adjustments as a pro, including a position change. When the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the eighth round of the 2013 Draft, he was told he would be moved to catcher.

Initially, it wasn't an easy change to digest.

"It was tough for my ego. I had played shortstop my entire life," Farmer said. "But the Dodgers have great coaching and have so much patience with me. I've learned a lot about the game."

He described his first day as a catcher as "ugly," but has made significant strides since, especially with blocking.

And Farmer is humble as he talks about his future in the game, but there is a hint of confidence and determination in his voice.

"I want to be a Major League player. That is my goal," he said. "It's going to take a lot of work to get there. I know I have to keep getting better and be as consistent as I can each day."

Brian Lester is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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