[Editor’s note: A total of 12 prospects received votes in our True Blue LA community ranking, which we are revealing in reverse order. Third baseman Miguel Vargas is ranked No. 3.]
Having collected a couple of impressive pieces of MiLB hardware in 2021, Miguel Vargas checks in at number three in the Dodgers prospect community rankings. Vargas impressed his way through Double-A Tulsa, earning the Texas League batting title while also being named the Dodgers minor league position player of the year. Vargas’ arrow has been trending up for some time, but he made additional improvements to his offensive game to help him forecast well across the diamond should he have to move off of third base.
Vargas has the best bat-to-ball skills in the organization. He has a long, level swing that stays in the hitting zone a long time and thanks to his long frame, covers the entire hitting zone and well outside it. Despite being more contact-oriented, Vargas keeps the ball in the air, and is the most adept of the top Dodger prospects at hitting the other way and using the entire field.
He’s also cleaned up some previous stiffness he’s shown in his swing that may have robbed him of some power, when he would occasionally bar out. Vargas is not all pull or elite with the bat speed, so I don’t see his power taking bigger steps forward. What he has done is worked to jump on wheelhouse pitches quicker and does look to elevate balls on the inner half.
What makes Vargas stand out at the plate is the consistency of quality of contact and difficulty in punching him out. That gives him a high floor as an upper-division bench bat, but Vargas will likely exceed that. Vargas should consistently produce .290-plus batting averages while hitting 20-plus home runs a season.
That would be excellent production at third base, but most scouting reports aren’t convinced he will stick there. In the few looks I’ve had, I think he’s passable, with sufficient arm and adequate glove and footwork. He has a broad frame and could lose some quickness as he continues to fill out. I don’t doubt the Dodgers will give Vargas every opportunity to eventually succeed Justin Turner at third, but there is coming competition in the system behind him. Additionally, should Vargas have to move to first base, will he have enough power to hold down the spot in Los Angeles long-term (notwithstanding the addition of Freddie Freeman pushing positional availability back a few years).
Ultimately, Vargas’s offensive tools are too valuable in this age of swing and miss to not find a role for him to settle into the lineup. Vargas is heading to Triple-A Oklahoma City to start 2022, where I don’t doubt he will continue to excel at the plate (especially if the trends of Triple-A hold from last season). He’s not on the 40-man, but that will not prevent him from a call-up should an injury need arise. Vargas may see his major league debut come in the back half of 2022, but by 2023 he will be knocking on the door and pressuring the Dodgers to work him into at-bats anywhere they can.