While it seems like infielder Miguel Vargas has been contributing to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system forever, he’s still just 21 years old, having recently begun his latest stint with the High-A Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League.
So far this year, Vargas has been one of the more productive hitters for Great Lakes, at least as far as average goes. Through the first 28 games of the season, he has slashed an impressive .322/.375/.504 with nine doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI over 115 AB. He’s the only player on the team with the minimum amount of qualified AB who’s hitting over .300.
Recently, Vargas has been hitting out of the leadoff spot for the Loons, undoubtedly for his superb contact skills rather than his quickness on the basepaths. One of his best games this season came hitting cleanup on May 14, when he went 3-for-5 with a home run on the road against West Michigan.
Vargas has settled in nicely as the everyday third baseman for Great Lakes; but sticking with the Los Angeles philosophy of versatility, he has also appeared minimally at both first and second base already this season.
As far as the organizational depth chart goes, it’s tough to gauge exactly where Vargas fits in because of the presence of so many journeyman utility players like Sheldon Neuse, Elliot Soto and Andy Burns. However, when considering all the true third base prospects in the system, Vargas is right there in the Top 4 with Kody Hoese, Cristian Santana, and Devin Mann, who has surprisingly seen quite a bit of action at the hot corner for Double-A Tulsa this year.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Vargas was not among the organization’s 60-man player pool last year, but he was one of 41 Los Angeles players who took part in the Instructional League last fall. More importantly, he was included among the team’s non-roster invitees to the big-league side of 2021 spring training.
Across two levels in 2019, Vargas slashed .308/.381/.440 with 38 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 77 RBI, and nine steals over 124 games. He was named as a Low-A All-Star by Baseball America for the entirety of the 2019 campaign. Not long after being promoted to High-A Rancho from Great Lakes in mid-August, Vargas earned Cal League Player of the Week honors, back when the Quakes and Loons had there organizational levels reversed.
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 a $300,000 bonus in September of 2017.
Some of his success 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.
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,” former hitting coach Dustin Kelly said about Vargas during his time with the Raptors. “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.”
According to MLB Pipeline, Vargas “thoroughly understands his swing mechanics, controls the strike zone and uses the entire field. He began driving the ball in the air more regularly in 2019 and could develop 20-homer power if he adds strength and gets more aggressive at the plate.”
Although he’s still diligently working to improve his range on defense, some scouts believe that his strong arm might be his best asset.
As it stands, pundits have Vargas pegged for a 2022 arrival to the big leagues. However, that timetable might depend on what happens with Hoese, as the development of both youngsters could very well play into the team’s future plans at the hot corner.