Dodgers Prospect Watch: Infielder Miguel Vargas Opening Eyes

(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Johnson/Ogden Raptors)

It’s not very often that an 18-year-old kid at short-season rookie ball hits so well that he captures the attention of  even major league fans. But that’s exactly what infielder Miguel Vargas is doing, as he currently appears to be one of the hottest commodities in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system.

Admittedly, I hadn’t even heard of Vargas until this year, when our newest minor league correspondent, Jason Manuel, started raving about him on a daily basis. As it stands now, the 6’3″, right-handed hitting third baseman is slashing .509/.548/.737 over 57 AB in 13 games for Ogden in the Pioneer League. Yes, you read that correctly—a .509 average.

Less than a week ago, Vargas recorded perhaps his best effort of his young career, when he went 5-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored against the Helena Brewers. The youngster is garnering high praise from scouts and coaches throughout the entire Dodgers’ organization, especially from current hitting coach Dustin Kelly.

“I think we always knew he was a pure hitter and an advanced hitter since day one, but I don’t think we expected him to be this good this quick up here right now,” Kelly recently said about Vargas. “There was always really good bat-to-ball skills, he manages his at-bats really good and it never looks like he’s overmatched. Even when guys are pitching to him based on his scouting report or looking to find a weakness, he still finds a way to get the barrel to the ball and he doesn’t ever give at-bats. With two strikes, he’s almost even more comfortable because he shortens up, gets a little wider and is able to manipulate the barrel to get it to the ball and he finds hits.”

The crazy thing about Vargas is that he hasn’t played any competitive baseball in the two years preceding this season, having turned just 18 last November—and he’s still tearing the cover off the ball at the mid-point of the year.

Along with his father, Lazaro Vargas, Miguel defected from Cuba when he was just 16 years old with a future in baseball as his mission. When the scouting crew of the Dodgers caught wind of the La Habana native, they didn’t hesitate to make him an offer, eventually signing him for $300,000 in September of 2017.

Yet, despite his recent two-year hiatus from the game, he’s quickly emerging as one of Los Angeles’ best young prospects. Much of this can be attributed to his father, who was a legend in Cuba, having played 22 years for the Havana Industriales in the island nation’s top baseball league. Needless to say, Miguel has been hanging around the diamond for as long as he can remember.

And, perhaps the best parts about Vargas’ game are his professionalism and his composure—qualities that are rarely found in a prospect at such a young age.

“If you see him on the field, it’s a smooth, easy and relaxed playing style,” Kelly added. “And he’s got the same personality in the clubhouse. He’s got a big personality, but he goes about his business and people seem to really like him. He engages with people and he’s pretty infectious.”

It tough to guess what exactly the scouting directors have in mind for Vargas as far as the remainder of the season goes, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get bumped up to Low-A Great Lakes sometime soon. And if he stays on track heading into next season, it’s very well possible that he could appear for High-A Rancho Cucamonga while he’s still in his teenage years. What’s more, defensively, he seems to be comfortable at the hot corner—a position for which the Dodgers are just a tad bit thin in their farm system.

Please be sure to stay tuned, as we promise to try to stay on top of Vargas’ progress and monitor his ascension up the organizational ladder.


17 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Infielder Miguel Vargas Opening Eyes

  1. Thanks for the update Dennis and between you and Manuel I’m sure we’ll be kept up to date on his progress. He looks like a major prospect.

  2. Yup, I knew you’d come through on this one Dennis! Just as I figured, Vargas is the type of hitter that makes adjustments EVERY AB as opposed to every game. Only a select handful are able to pull that off, even less than that at his age. Will most likely see him finishing up in Low-A Great Lakes by season’s end if he stays this hot offensively. Long as he’s still at Ogden, he’ll only be stat-padding and that’s not what the current Dodger coaching staff is about these days. I’ll certainly give him a mention as well in my first full minor-league write-up on here beginning early next week…

    1. It’s good to hear he protects with two strikes. I hope they don’t try to change that. Would not surprise me if they do. Nobody else on this team does it.

      1. Boy do I agree with that. If I replace Doc as manager tomorrow that’s the very first thing I mention. If a hitter as good as Votto actually chokes up on the bat with two strikes it should be good enough for the rest of MLB. I would spend a lot of time practicing how to beat the shift also. Home runs are fun to watch but that shouldn’t become the entire offense for a team.

  3. Sounds like it would be worth the drive, to go watch him, when he gets to Rancho Cucamonga next season.

    1. I live in northern Arizona. I’ll wait for your report.

      Dodgers give up one earned and lose. Muncy looked like the second coming of Willie Calhoun last night.

      1. I hear we’re interested in Britton also, but probably not as aggressively unless they’ll take back Forsythe’s contract. Even then, there are a bunch of other guys I’d much rather have, even if the cost in prospects would be substantially higher.

  4. I think he’s safer at first base. Looking at the ranking of defensive positions by importance, first base is down the list. When Turner and Puig get back, who goes where? I put Bellinger in center, Taylor at 2b and Muncy at first.

    1. I think those rankings are faulty because they don’t seem to take into account how a good first baseman with a superior ability to scoop low throws out of the dirt can save umpteen errors for his other infielders during the course of the year. Bellinger seems to have this talent. Haven’t decided on Muncy yet. You’re suggestion of where to put the guys makes sense to me, although I think Bellinger is a superior first baseman to Muncy. On the other hand, he’s probably also our best center fielder. Speaking of scooping low throws, are you a former first baseman Scoop? If Muncy doesn’t cut it, we may need you.

      1. For those English speaking readers, I would like to point out that I incorrectly spelled “your” as “you’re” in the above post. My apologies.

      2. An edit capability would be nice here.

        I do not disagree that Bellinger is the better first baseman. But, the analytics are clear on the subject. If you must hide an infielder, first base is where you do it. And when Turner is back, today, maybe Muncy goes to second. When Puig returns, soon, what is the best up the middle defense we can employ? I think it’s Taylor at second, Bellinger in center.

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