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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 35, 3B/SS Carlos Vargas

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We’ve tipped our caps more than a few times to the Rays for being able to add high-ceilinged players to their trades in recent years. Our next prospect happens to be an extra piece that came to Tampa along with Mallex Smith and Ryan Yarbrough, and could rival or exceed each in value when all is said and done.

No.35, 3B/SS Carlos Vargas, 18 yrs old

Born: Mar 18th, 1999 in Valencia, Venezuela

Height/Weight: 6’3” 170 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Mariners July 2nd, 2015, for $1.7M

Twitter handle: N/A

Twitter profile statement: N/A

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 19th best international prospect for the 2015 class by BA
  • Ranked as the 29th best International prospect for the 2015 class by MLB.com

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 32nd
  • Low: 43rd

Carlos Vargas: Abilities

  • At time of being signed by M’s, grades included

Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50

  • Raw power which is projected to become above-average in games
  • Arm strength, quick release, and accuracy play well at the hot-corner while lack of range likely leads away from the SS position
  • Abilities notes: Vargas split time between 3B and SS in 2017, which leaves the door open to continue playing SS in 2018.

Joined the Rays by way of....

  • Trade, along with Mallex Smith and Ryan Yarbrough in return for Drew Smyly. If I may be candid: I honestly believe the Rays fleeced the Mariners on that one, and we’re set to find out how badly they did so from 2018 onward with Yarbrough and Smith set to make an impact.
  • Had ranked 29th among International Prospects for 2015, behind other standouts such as fellow Rays prospect Yadier Alvarez (1), Yusniel Diaz (3), Eddie Martinez (5), Lucius Fox (6), Vladimir Guerrero Jr (7), Leody Taveras (22), Juan Soto (25), and was followed by Fernando Tatis Jr (30). To say it was a talented class would be an overwhelming understatement.

Latest Transaction: June 27th, 2017, assigned to GCL Rays.

Note - With the GCL likely behind him now, it’s expected he could be manning the hot corner in either Hudson Valley or Bowling Green in 2018. While he did not exactly dominate the GCL, he did enough to warrant a promotion and was clearly one of the better bats on the team despite also being one of the youngest.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Showed his power’s promise in 2017, including the game noted in the Tweet below, as well as a 3 game streak in late August where Vargas went 6 for 11 with 3 doubles, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB and 0 SO. It was during this span that Vargas earned his first intentional walk.
  • Began making more noise in 2017, getting noticed by MLB Pipeline on one occasion
  • Led the GCL Rays in RBI (27) which was 8 more than the second (Byrd with 19) and in doubles with 13 (2 more than 22 yr old Jake Stone), and tied for the HR lead with Pedro Diaz (5 HR).
  • But perhaps most impressively, also tied for the lead among GCL Rays with 19 BB.
  • If there’s one area where Vargas struggled in 2017, it’s vs LHP against which he hit .156/.239/.250.
  • On the flip side, if there’s one area where Vargas was particularly impressive, it’s with RISP when he hit .309/.415/.545 with half of his extra-base hits.

Stats

Carlos Vargas 2017

GP 54
GP 54
PA 212
AB 188
Hits 46
Doubles 13
Triples 0
Home Runs 5
RBI 27
SB (CS) 2 (2)
AVG 0.245
OBP 0.330
SLG 0.394
OPS 0.724
BB% 9.0%
SO% 17.5%
ISO 0.149
BAbip 0.281
wOBA 0.345
wRC+ 108

Stats Notes: Over the last 10 games of the GCL season, Vargas managed an impressive .343/.452/.629, good for a 1.081 OPS, 11.9 % BB% and 21.4 % SO%, .286 ISO, and 195 wRC+. Food for thought as we hope that continues in 2018.

Interesting Comparison: Chase Headley

  • Although Headley is a switch-hitter, he’s approximately the same size (6’2” 215 lbs) as Vargas may be as he matures and adds weight (6’3” 170 lbs right now).
  • In his first season in the minors, at the HiA level, Headley managed a .143 ISO which is very similar to Vargas and his 2-year run of .149 ISO. Their walk rates are similar (in the 9% to 12% range) and so are their SO% (17.5% SO% for Vargas to 16.8% for Headley). Obviously the differing levels make this all for nought, but it’s the closest link found.
  • Although he’s no longer known as much of a power threat, once upon a time Headley was a major source of power. In 2012, he hit 30 HR and managed an impressive .212 ISO. This may be something Vargas is also able to accomplish or exceed, and he’s expected to also be a strong force defensively at the hot corner which helps make this comparison interesting, even if imperfect.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

It’s not often that you’re able to land such diverse talents, as was the case in the Smyly trade, that all project to have such high floors, but that’s the case with these three. And if we’re to pick a floor for Vargas, it would be as a run driving 6-7 hitter that can also manage a corner position on the field.

What’s most intriguing, however, is his ceiling. Although we made the comparison to Chase Headley above, it’s very possible that he exceeds that comparison and becomes a multi-year all-star in MLB. There’s enough patience and power shown at the plate thus far, to go along with hard contact, that you can envision his power playing very well at the higher levels and become a force in the middle of the lineup.

It seems that scouts and analysts are very hard on 1B prospects, and so I’m not going to label Vargas as a 1B yet, but that’s another possible trajectory — his bat and power should be more than powerful enough to play very well at 1B/DH. That in itself provides us with a lot of hope that he’ll be able to make it to MLB and earn a starting role, and possibly crack the Top-30 next season.

For now, we’ll wait and see how he handles the transition to A-ball and higher level pitching, as well as whether or not he can handle LHP at a better rate and still manage to hit well enough overall in 2018. Whether it’s in Hudson Valley or at Bowling Green, Vargas will be tested and is likely to make a full transition to the hot corner.

Carlos Vargas: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects