Dodgers Prospect Watch: How Close Is Miguel Vargas?

As everyone patiently waits for the MLB lockout to end, speculation remains at its highest point of the winter. Fans of the Dodgers, specifically, continue to wonder if the new CBA — along with a few other factors — will have a significant impact on how much money the team will spend on player payroll once everything gets moving again.

While most of our discussions here have focused on free agents and trades, many of my stories during the offseason have been prospect-based. Last year was interesting because many of us walked away with the feeling that the Los Angeles farm wasn’t anywhere near the hype many pundits made it out to be, based on the way about a dozen or so prospects performed when they finally got their big chance.

However, there still is a young crop of players on the lower levels of the farm that could change the core makeup of the big-league squad over the next five years.
One of those players is infielder Miguel Vargas.

Vargas will enter his fifth full year in the Dodgers’ system after signing as an international free agent in 2017. At 21 years old, the righty hitting Vargas made it as high as Double-A ball last year and registered quite an impressive season, slashing .319/.380/.526 with 27 doubles, 23 homers and 76 RBI across two levels. What’s even more impressive is that he swiped 11 bases, revealing both his deceptive speed and savvy on the basepaths.

Now entering his age 22 season, he could be a year away from having an impact in the majors.

Many fans are aware that the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Vargas can equally handle duties at both third and first base, but few realize he saw considerable action at second base last year. At Double-A Tulsa, he made 15 total appearances at the keystone, tallying just one error in 55 chances.

How, where or when Vargas fits in to the major league roster is anybody’s guess. It’s almost like trying to guess where Chris Taylor will play the bulk of his games in 2022. However, if Vargas can establish himself as a viable big league second baseman, it could increase his chances for a quicker pro debut.

At this stage, it’s definitely safe to say that Vargas has leapfrogged Kody Hoese as the top-rated third base prospect on the farm. Justin Turner has one more year on his contract, although he does have a team option for 2023. If things play out at their current pace, that means Vargas’ timing could be about perfect.

Nevertheless, if the Dodgers end up making a big splash once the transaction freeze is lifted — say someone like Freddie Freeman — it could have an impact on a few other younger players like Gavin Lux, Edwin Rios and Zach McKinstry.

Nevertheless, based on the way Vargas has successfully hit on every level he’s competed, it suggests that he could be a valuable piece moving forward. Should he register more than 20 long balls and a 300+ batting average again in 2022, it will certainly be tough to keep him relegated to the minors too much longer.

18 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: How Close Is Miguel Vargas?

  1. If Trea doesn’t resign the 2023 infie could potentially be:
    1B Muncy
    2B Busch
    3B Vargas
    SS Lux

    With LA having to pay some of the current younger guys on a ramp up they may need to bring some rookies in soon.

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    1. Dennis first thank you for writing about the Farm Teams. The Dodgers spend a lot of resources to build up their farm system. Some fans do not want the team to bring up rookies as they want flashy free agents. To keep a team competitive long-term teams must have a robust minor league system. look at the Angels and their poor Minor League system.
      Bringing up rookies that are price controllable helps every club sign free agents to fill the gaps. I believe Vargas is close to a can’t miss prospect as he has made contact at each level, shown very good plate discipline, has a great frame that will add muscle, and his father was a star in Cuba. I would love to see him in 2022 but he is a sure player to bring up by 2023.

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      1. I don’t want them bringing up rookies before they’re ready. I don’t think any of our top 10 prospects are ready yet, but I’ll leave that decision to the front office.
        As we’ve discussed many times before, Tmax, we are both very high on Vargas and I can’t imagine any trade (short of Trout or Ohtani) that would convince AF to let him go. 2023 sounds right to me for his debut. I expect him to have a long, illustrious career.

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      1. Players retire or move on that is why a robust Farm system is so important. Muncy 1st, Vargas 2nd, Lux SS & Rios 3rd plus Smith Catcher is not a bad infield lineup if Lux continues to hit like the last part of 2021. As the article says they are trying Vargas at 2nd but he and Muncy may switch. I have not given up on Rios. Dodgers have a few infielders like Amaya etc that might be ready by 2023. A young rotation of Urias, Buehler, May, Gonsolin, and Miller? as a guess for 2023 would be a strong one IMHO. It is all about pitching after all.

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    1. That was a close one. I hope they don’t take the Bengals for granted.

      Everyone talks about the great announcers we’ve had here, but we’ve also been fortunate to have some great owners. The O’Malleys plus the current group, Jerry Buss, and now Stan Kronke who brought us back our team and built a spectacular home for them.

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  2. While rushing them is not a great strategy. Vargas could play in 2022. Some players can make consistent contact. Vargas’s father was a star in Cuba and has coached his son as he has grown up on how to play.
    I would rather see Vargas come up and the Dodgers spend money on an area they have a need in 2022 or 2023. An example is perhaps signing Suzuki and letting him learn and adapt in 2022 as there is a good chance AJ Pollock will leave in 2023. While they may trade Busch I would not be open to trading Vargas, Miller, or the others in the Dodger top 5. Like many that comment on this blog I have been a fan from childhood and I am in my 70’s. I enjoy seeing homegrown players come through the system and play for the Dodgers.

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    1. Don’t know if you subscribe to The Athletic, Tmax, but Keith Law put out his Top 100 Prospect list today. He talked about the fact that Busch has horrible splits but pointed out that he continued to draw walks and hit the ball when hitting against southpaws. It wasn’t just a matter of failing to make contact. In Law’s view, that meant that Busch could ultimately overcome that problem because of his far-better-than-average hitting skills against righties. I found that analysis reassuring, especially in view of the fact that when I saw video of Busch I thought he had one of the nicer swings I had seen.

      Dodgers on Law’s list:
      Cartaya -13 (last year 75)
      Miller – 50 (unranked last year)
      Busch – 53 (74)
      Vargas – 62 (unranked)
      Pages – 76 (unranked)
      Leonard – 98 (unranked)

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      1. I do not subscribe to the Athletic. Do you recommend it? I agree Busch has a great looking swing. But as u said he has had abysmal splits for a couple of seasons. I worry about that as pitching improves in the Majors. Plus Busch’s defense is average or below average. He has reportedly been working on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I find The Athletic has some really good writers on all sports but it’s all a matter of what you want to spend money on. They usually have intro deals for new subscribers so take a look and then decide.

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  3. Grew up on 92nd between Vermont and Budlong in Los Angeles, I remember kids running around with Ram helmets. Nice to see the Rams back in LA and in the Super Bowl.

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  4. I do not watch pro football. For all the obvious reasons. To me, prospects are suspects until they do it at the major league level. Vargas has the tools, hopefully he grows some more with a little time at AAA. Same with Cartaya, who most say is a generational player. The Dodgers have holes, there are only a couple of ways they can plug them. Trades and free agents. I do not want to see Muncy at second, right now no one is even sure if his injury will be healed enough for him to start the season. Let alone be the player he has been since he came to LA. Too much guess work, and mighty thin on facts. The pitching in the starting role is thin. At least as far as quality starters go. There are three on the roster, Buehler, Bauer and Urias, which is not a bad start, except no one has a clue about Bauer’s status for the coming year, or even if the Dodgers want the guy on their roster. If, he is not charged, but suspended, no doubt his side is going to file a very messy lawsuit against MLB. The MLBPA will go to bat for their player. The Dodgers are also short on right handed power, and down a potent left handed bat. Are the players currently on the roster good enough to overcome the losses? I think not. Beaty is a good hitter, but not a power threat. I do not think we saw the real McKinstry after his injury. But is he as good as he started off to be?? Bellinger absolutely has to rebound from his awful injury plagued season. Pollock has to stay healthy. He is a very good player when he is. Muncy is at this point a question mark. Rios the same. Turner is 37, can he continue to be as consistent as he has been in the past? Another question. When the lockout does finally end, we will see just how active AF will be.

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  5. Excellent article today on ESPN.com by Doug Glanville, former MLB player on why Barry Bonds does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Not a sour grapes article, but a well written and thought out reason as to why cheaters should not be enshrined in the Hall.

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    1. You will have to go to where it says MLB to find it. Not on the main page anymore. No baseball happening since the MLBPA and MLB are both staffed with morons. So, I watched my 2020 World Series DVD.

      Like

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