Dodgers Prospects: The Rise of Miguel Vargas

The Dodgers farm system continues to prove it is loaded with talent as five prospects receive recognition on Baseball America’s Top 100 list for the 2022 season. Diego Cartaya headlined the pack at No. 23 and Bobby Miller ranked 38th followed by Miguel Vargas (No. 40), Michael Busch (No. 76), and Ryan Pepiot (No. 99). With a strong offensive profile and his game improving quicker than some may have expected, Miguel Vargas continues to not only put his name on the map within the Dodgers system but in baseball altogether. 

2021 Round-Up

In 2021 the Los Angeles Dodgers named Miguel Vargas the Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year. Vargas spent 47 games with the Great Lake Loons where he slashed .314/.366/.532/.898 with a 142 wRC+. 11 doubles, 1 triple, 7 home runs, and 16 RBI earned him a much-deserved promotion on June 6, 2021. Vargas then appeared in 83 games with the Tulsa Drillers producing a slash line of .321/.386/.523/.909 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs, and 60 RBI. Vargas was not just opening eyes within the Dodgers system but minor league baseball as a whole.

He ranked third in AVG, sixth in OBP, seventh in SLG, and third in OPS among Double-A hitters. Vargas earned Double-A Central Player of the Month in August 2021 after leading the Double-A Central with 24 runs scored, 41 hits, and an OBP of .470. Vargas was second in OPS with a 1.090 and third in SLG sitting at .620 while having a league-best .410 batting average. 

A New Commitment for Miggy

In 2019, Vargas committed to pulling the baseball more which really showed off his power and it was reflected in his increased slugging numbers. In 2021, Vargas had a Pull% at 51.6% with the Loons which would be categorized as an extreme pull hitter but he began to spread the ball around the field more once promoted to Tulsa.

Vargas Pull% decreased to 39.2% with the Drillers. His oppo% increased from 26.2% with the Loons to 34.1% with the Drillers. Vargas has always had more of a flat swing path but has driven and elevated the ball to the opposite field more over the last year which is a positive sign for any young prospect.

It appears that Vargas has turned his focus to going with the pitch and driving the ball more to centerfield and opposite field. This is typically an early sign of having minor league power translate to the big leagues. His swing can get a bit long but his bat stays in the zone for enough time which helps make up for any lacking bat speed.

A simple setup and swing have made Vargas an impressive contact hitter that brings an advanced approach to the plate. If you watched Vargas play in 2021 you learned that his bat is what will get him to Dodger Stadium one day but you may have missed his ability to make in-game adjustments. Vargas displayed an ability to break down a pitcher mid at-bat which can show that preparation is something he knows is important to be successful. One thing about Vargas’ game is that he is a naturally gifted hitter and he continued to prove that in 2021. 

Defensive Notes

Vargas’ defensive abilities were showcased at first base, second base, and third base in 2021. If there has ever been any concern regarding his ability in the field it has certainly not been about his arm. Vargas’ strong-arm plus his ability to produce accurate throws even when he is off balance allows him to be versatile in the field. Some have even thrown out the idea of Vargas ending up in a corner outfield spot solely because of what his arm brings to his game. Standing at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Vargas has decent range but his first step and ability to read the ball off the bat quickly make up for it.

With a vacancy looming at third base for the Dodgers, Vargas likely won’t be pushed off third base but just like any young player, he could improve his glove skills so when the time comes he is capable of defending the position at the big league level. 

Getting Some Recognition

After a more than impressive 2021 season, Miguel Vargas is quickly breaking the list of top prospects in the game of baseball. According to Fangraphs, Vargas is projected to slash  .278/.326/.454 with a .334 wOBA in 2022. Vargas has had been compared to a young Miguel Cabrera mainly because of the similar build. There is arguably still a reasonable amount of power yet unlocked for Vargas and with an already strong offensive profile that thought should bring more excitement to his name. Vargas is still only 22 years of age so accurate comparisons are tricky but if anything is for certain it is that Miguel Vargas has the potential to control third base for the Dodgers one day. 

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