The Twins traded Sam Fuld to the Athletics on Thursday to acquire another control specialist starting pitcher in Tom Milone. But at the same time, the club called up one of its best healthy position players, giving Futures Game World first baseman Kennys Vargas his first big league promotion.
A year ago, weight questions dogged Vargas and potentially limited him from reaching his full potential. He’s still a very large man, but he’s gotten his weight under control, which has allowed to untap more of his natural athleticism. Vargas is a switch-hitter who has surprising contact skills for someone with his size and power.
Vargas has excellent raw power that grades at 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. But his productive power has never really matched that, in part because he stays inside the ball, uses the whole field and sprays line drives. That's actually proven to be to Vargas’ benefit as he has shown solid on-base skills and strikes out much less than the average slugging first baseman.
Defensively, he’s improved to the point where he’s average, so he’s very usable at first base in addition to getting at-bats at designated hitter. As you would expect from someone who 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Vargas is a well-below average runner who will not steal bases.
What To Expect
With the Twins playing for 2015 at this point (they are last in the AL Central), and first baseman Joe Mauer on the disabled list, there’s no reason to not give Vargas plenty of at-bats. And every early indication is that the Twins plan to do just that.
That makes Vargas a worthwhile addition for teams playing to win the league this year and for fantasy teams already plotting who to keep for 2015. Vargas has legitimate on-base skills with the chance to hit for at least average power.
Over a full season, he’s a potential .280/.350/.460 hitter. He’s even more useful in leagues where on-base percentage is used than batting average, but he’s got enough hitting ability to not be a drag in batting average-based leagues. Long-term, he should hit for above-average power (20 home runs or more) over a full season if he shows more willingness to yank home runs, but his hit tool is currently more advanced than his productive power.