Miguel Vargas is at worst the second-best hitting prospect in the Dodgers minors, but he’s certainly the best hitting prospect closest to the majors. That distance was negated on Tuesday, with Vargas called up to the big club for the first time.
Opportunity came in the interim between trading Jake Lamb to Seattle and the pending arrival from new acquisition Joey Gallo from New York. The length of Vargas’ initial stay with the Dodgers remains to be seen, but with Justin Turner on Tuesday missing his sixth straight game and 11th of the last 12 with abdominal tightness, perhaps a more extended stay for Vargas could be afoot.
Turner was placed on the injured list before Tuesday’s game, backdated to Saturday.
“For us, it was all about opportunity and getting at-bats,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on a conference call Tuesday. “At different points, whether it was moving to the outfield, we believe in the bat. He can really hit.”
Vargas at 22 is the youngest player at Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, and more than holding his own, hitting .291/.382/.497 with 15 home runs, 24 doubles, and a 119 wRC+. He leads the Pacific Coast League in hits and runs scored, and ranks in the top five in the league in doubles, RBI, walks, extra-base hits, and total bases.
This season Vargas has started 69 times at third base, and also started seven times at second base, twice at first, and 12 times in left field, the latter his first time in the outfield as a professional.
He played in the Futures Game at Dodger Stadium during All-Star festivities, starting at second base for the National League.
Vargas was rated the No. 34 prospect in baseball in Keith Law’s midseason rankings at The Athletic, with Law writing, “There’s a chance he gets to 25-plus homers, though, and a chance he stays at third; it’s just more likely he’s a high-average 20ish homer guy at first who’s an above-average regular for a long time.”