- Full name Emilio Vargas
- Born 08/12/1996 in Moca, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
Organization Prospect Rankings
Track Record: Signed for $80,000 in January 2013, Vargas has long been on the organization's prospect radar, with player development personnel anticipating a breakout season for years. He showed occasional flashes, including a 16-strikeout game in 2016, but it wasn't until 2018 that he managed to put together a strong season from start to finish. He reported to high Class A Visalia and led the California League in ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (140) through August before earning a promotion to Double-A
Scouting Report: Vargas has a strong, durable build and a clean arm stroke. He throws a low-90s fastball with a high spin rate, allowing it to play as though it's in the mid-90s. His changeup turned into his best secondary pitch once he started using it more in Double-A, moving ahead of a slider that became less slurvy as the season progressed. He struggled with control early, but his strike-throwing improved significantly. Still, without a plus pitch, scouts aren't sure the command is where it needs to be.
The Future: Vargas' command questions leave some wondering about his future role, but he'll get a chance to keep getting outs as a starter, likely beginning in Double-A in 2019.
Minor League Top Prospects
Vargas emerged from obscurity to win the league’s pitcher of the year award. The big-bodied Dominican led the league in ERA (2.50), opponent average (.232) and strikeouts-per-nine (11.8) among qualifiers and earned a late promotion to Double-A. Vargas’ high-spin rate fastball sat 90-93 mph and played up with rising action and late run. His slurvy 77-81 mph breaking ball drew swings and misses, and his changeup was a usable third pitch. More than his stuff, Vargas worked with a good tempo, pitched to both sides of the plate, changed speeds and pounded the strike zone early to get into pitcher’s counts. “For a guy who strikes out as many as he does he also forces a lot of weak contact,” Modesto manager Mitch Canham said. “He gets ahead of hitters, and once you get ahead the strikeouts can climb. He did a good job getting ahead, and when he was behind he had good pitches to get back into the count.” Vargas’ lack of a plus pitch and inconsistent fastball command foster some doubts about how he’ll fare at higher levels. Improving his secondaries will be a developmental focus to help him rise.
Vargas has had a breakout year with Visalia, striking out more than 12 batters per nine innings and cutting back his walks after a wild April. He relies on a high-spin fastball on which he gets excellent extension, allowing it to play up above the 92-93 mph range in which it usually sits. With two potentially average or slightly better offspeed pitches, he’s looking like a back-end starter.