Prospect Profiles: Alexander Vargas
Signed: August 1, 2018 out of Cuba
Some guys take time to develop their man strength and put on mass. I recall drinking “Weight gainer 3,000,” a protein shake with 3,000 calories per serving, in high school in a desperate attempt to pack on a few pounds and somehow failing miserably. Before the current offseason, it was the same story for Alexander Vargas. He’s a skinny, athletically gifted kid who may just need some time to grow into his body.
Despite a trying season in 2022, it’s easy to forget that he finished 2021 as one of the most intriguing prospects in the system.
In his first crack at the full season leagues and under the bright lights of evening games, Vargas stumbled a bit. He hit .203/.271/.311/.582 with eight homeruns, 14 doubles, two triples, and 27 SB. He also struck out 123 times in 100 games. Just one year prior, he had hit .273/.362/.393/.755 in the FCL.
Despite the rude awakening, there were several factors working against Vargas last year. First, he was 1.2 years younger than the average competition. He had never played under the lights before, and he was significantly underweight. It’s also a known phenomenon that switch hitters take longer to develop. Even Jasson Dominguez had an adjustment period.
Without making any further excuses for Alex, it’s time for the good news. He must have been drinking some “weight gainer 3,000” in the offseason because he showed up with 15 extra pounds off muscle this year. While no one would confuse him for Ben Rortvedt, this is a big step in the right direction for Vargas. Last year, he had poor exit velocities and just looked overpowered by pitchers. The bat was dragging. This year, he already looks much better.
Vargas is a switch hitter who’s better from the left side. All eight of his homeruns in 2022 came off righties. He has good bat-to-ball skills but with little to no power in the past. He has patient approach and good knowledge of the strike zone. Once he puts the ball in play, he has plus speed and knows how to steal bases.
In the field he is a plus defender. He has the arm to stick at shortstop, a quick transfer, plus range, and good hands.
One bad season in the minors does not bury a player. After gaining some much-needed weight in the offseason, Vargas has positioned himself to turn it around in 2023. The Yankees started him in High-A, and sure enough his offseason work has paid off.
After a two-homerun performance tonight, Vargas is now up to a .263/.344/.561/.985 line with four homeruns, a double, and two triples in 14 games. He also has four stolen bases while striking out 16 times. With continued success, Vargas could push himself into the top prospect conversation once again. Even after this offseason he still has room to fill out and improve.
The hot start has put him back on the map and follow closely.