Cuban prospect Vargas, legendary father defect
Legendary Cuban baseball player Lazaro Vargas and his son, top infield prospect Miguel Vargas, have left the island, according to industry sources, and are currently in an undisclosed location.
Miguel Vargas, who turned 16 on Tuesday, is seeking a deal with a Major League team. Lazaro Vargas, 51, who played 22 years for the Havana Industriales in Cuba's Serie Nacional and won two Olympic gold medals while playing for the Cuba's national team, accompanied his son.
Miguel Vargas was expected to be one of the future stars of Serie Nacional, a league that has been depleted in recent years with hundreds of defections. The elder Vargas also managed and served as the director for Havana's top team, and he is featured on the 15 centavos stamp.
When the teenager will become eligible to sign is to be determined. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Vargas is in the early stages of his paperwork, and he will be subject to the rules of the international signing guidelines because of his age and experience. He joins a crowded field of young Cuban talent that includes highly touted 15-and-under Cuban national squad teammates Lazarito Armenteros, an outfielder, and left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon, who are training in the Dominican Republic. The trio could become eligible when the 2016 international signing period begins on July 2, if they are not made eligible for the current period that ends on June 15.
Vargas also joins pitchers Vladimir Gutierrez, Norge Ruiz and Cionel Perez along with outfielders Yusnel Diaz and Jorge Oña on the long list of Cuban players to watch who are subject to the international signing guidelines.
When Vargas becomes eligible to sign will impact his future. The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants are among the teams that will not be able to sign any pool-eligible prospects for more than $300,000 for the next two international signing periods after exceeding their bonus pools this year. However, they are still in play for players who are eligible to sign under the international guidelines. The Angels, D-backs, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are already in the maximum penalty after blowing past their bonus pools last year.
Vargas played first and third base in Cuba. He hit .382 with a .444 on-base percentage, 13 doubles, two triples and two home runs and 29 RBIs in 127 games for Havana's 15-and-under team in 2014. Vargas hit .297 with eight doubles and two triples for Havana in 2013 at age 13.
Vargas, like Morejon and Armenteros, was named to the all-tournament team for Cuba's 15-and-under team at the World Cup 2014. He played for the country's 18-and-under national team in Japan in September.