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.