Vargas makes huge impact in MLB debut

August 4th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before his Major League debut, Miguel Vargas emerged from the visiting clubhouse with a huge smile on his face and just one earring hanging from his left ear. He proceeded to chat with the media and then took some hacks on the field. 

Every step of the way, Vargas oozed a level of confidence that is rare for a 22-year-old. That confidence goes up another notch when the Cuban infielder has a bat in his hands. While his future position on defense is in question, his ability at the plate certainly isn’t. 

Most scouts believe Vargas, the No. 5 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization per MLB Pipeline, has one of the best hit tools in the system. On Wednesday, Vargas flashed that skill in a hurry, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Giants at Oracle Park.

“He’s been around the game for quite some time and when you understand the game, he’s got a good heartbeat,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s always kind of looking at the field and the game and understands the game, the scoreboard, but it’s an uncanny ability to slow things down.”

With six family members in attendance, Vargas hit an RBI double to right-center field in his first Major League at-bat. It had an exit velocity of 106 mph and traveled 396 feet, according to Statcast. Had Wednesday’s game been held at Dodger Stadium, Vargas would’ve been celebrating his first big league homer.

“I was really nervous when I was on the on-deck circle,” Vargas said in Spanish. “But once I stepped into the box, I didn’t feel anything.”

On the next pitch to James Outman, Vargas wasted no time and took off for third base, sliding in safely for his first career stolen base. He joined Jose Offerman as the only Dodgers ever to record an extra-base hit and steal a base in their Major League debut.

“I just felt incredible,” Vargas laughed. “I didn’t feel like anyone could stop me.”

Vargas was not done making an impact, however. In his next at-bat, Vargas drove in the second run of the game with an infield hit that drove in Max Muncy from third base. The play was initially ruled a fielder’s choice but was later changed to an RBI single.

“He’s an impressive hitter,” said Giants right-hander Alex Cobb. “I don’t know how old he is, but he’s a big league bat.”

Some players never develop the type of feel for the game that Vargas possesses at 22. The Dodgers have tried to get him to pull the ball more in the Minors, which would lead to more power. But Vargas loves going the other way, a skill a lot of seasoned big leaguers struggle with.

Most of that baseball IQ comes from his father, Lazaro, who played 22 years in the Cuban National Series and won two gold medals while playing for the Cuban national team. The two defected to the Bahamas together in 2015. Vargas’ father wanted his son to live out his dream of playing in the Majors.

“I came here to live out [my father's] dream, which was to play in the Major Leagues,” Vargas said in Spanish. “He never got a chance to do that. For me to be up here, it feels like I’m representing him as well.”

With Chris Taylor and Justin Turner scheduled to come off the injured list within the next few weeks, the Dodgers don’t know how long Vargas will be up in the Majors. Vargas could be up for a few days, weeks, or for the remainder of the season. He said he’s not concerned about what will happen in the future.

In fact, despite his name being thrown around in essentially every potential Juan Soto trade, Vargas never doubted his ability. Neither did the Dodgers, who insisted they weren’t prepared to watch Vargas leave in any trade. It became obvious why on Wednesday.

“We know that he’s been a tremendous hitter down in the Minor Leagues and we’re hoping that he does the same thing here in the big leagues,” said Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías, who didn’t allow a run in six-plus innings on Wednesday. “He has a great heart, and he had some great at-bats tonight.”