Four years into his pro career, 21-year-old Miguel Vargas has established one thing for certain.
He can hit.
“I’ll tell you what, his bat-to-ball skills are unique and special,” Double-A Tulsa manager Scott Hennessey said. “Some guys just have a feel to hit, and he was born with that . . .
“I’ve told this to (big league manager) Dave Roberts—I’ve never seen such a young guy make pitch-to-pitch adjustments and swing adjustments on the fly like this guy does.”
After starting 2021 at High-A Great Lakes, Vargas was promoted to Double-A for the first time—and just kept hitting. In 120 games this season, 83 of them at Double-A, he hit .319/.380/.526 with 23 home runs, 27 doubles and 76 RBIs.
“He prepares really good. He studies really good and he’s a really good hitter,” Hennessey said. “When you have all three of those, you have something special.”
In this case, it might be a family inheritance. Vargas’ father Lazaro is a legend in Cuba, where he played 22 years in Serie Nacionale, the country’s top league, and was a member of two gold medal-winning Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996.
Lazaro and Miguel Vargas defected together to the United States. Miguel signed with the Dodgers in September 2017.
“It’s a great story,” Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said. “His dad is fantastic and is still involved and helpful with his off-field routine.
“He just has a really high hitting IQ. He’s special. He really is.”
If Vargas’ best position is in the batter’s box, his defense is “improving,” as Rhymes put it. Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Vargas moved around the infield this season, playing third base, second base and first base.
“He can play third. He did a great job for us at second. I hope he doesn’t outgrow that, for the value for him. He’s incredible job at first base,” Hennessey said. “The thing more than anything is he’s got a feel for the game of baseball, so wherever you put him he’s going to be fine.”
— Great Lakes outfielder Andy Pages completed an outstanding season in High-A Central. He led the league in home runs (31), RBIs (88), slugging percentage (.539), OPS (.933) and runs scored (96). Pages appeared in all 120 games for the Loons.
— After posting a 2.87 ERA with Double-A Tulsa, top pitching prospect Ryan Pepiot was unable to replicate those results at Triple-A. Through 11 appearances (nine starts) for Oklahoma City, Pepiot was 2-5, 7.13 with a 1.80 WHIP. Opposing hitters clobbered 12 home runs in 41.2 innings.
— Miguel Vargas earned the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey Award as their top minor league position player.