Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2021: Alexander Vargas (SS, #13)
Alexander Vargas was almost a player Yankees fans wouldn’t know about, if not for an IFA cap on the Cincinnati Reds and the Yankees trading for more IFA cap space. With a $2.5 Million signing bonus in 2018, Vargas has all the potential in the world to be a solid hitter with great shortstop defense, though after a missed 2020 where he goes from here is a big question. I have faith he’ll be a highly ranked prospect across baseball in a few years as he looks to crack the MLB.
ALEXANDER VARGAS, SS (#13):
Age/Date of Birth: 19 Years Old (10/29/2001)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Yankees East (Gulf Coast League, Rookie)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): .219/.301/.335 (.636 OPS), 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 14 Walks, 22 Strikeouts (40 Games, 173 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 5’11”/148 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees during the 2018 International Free Agent Period.
MLB ETA: 2023
A:LEXANDER VARGAS SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
Coming out of Cuba, Alexander Vargas was almost a name that the typical Yankees fan would’ve only heard about in a few years time when he makes his name as a prominent prospect in the system. Originally, the Cincinnati Reds had a deal for the shortstop, but bonus caps in the 2018 IFA class had them agree in principle to a deal for 2019. Meanwhile, the Yankees made some moves to acquire IFA money (see: the Luke Voit trade), which allowed them to grab Vargas for $2.5 million during the 2018 IFA period.
After taking the 2018 year in instructional camps within the Yankees organization, they had Vargas start the 2019 professional season in the foreign Dominican Summer league with the DSL Yankees. Playing just 8 games at the level (while hitting .289/.364/.526) showed that his tools were legit as it earned him a promotion.
Vargas would spend most the 2019 season with the Yankees East (Gulf Coast League, Rookie), totaling 40 games alongside a triple-slash of .219/.301/.335 (.636 OPS). While the numbers did deflate a little, Vargas came into the league as a 17-year-old and 2.5 years younger than the average player.
At the end of that season, Vargas was assigned to the Pulaski Yankees- although he did not record any playing time. Most recently in baseball activities, Vargas was participating with in the Yankees Dominican instructional league during this past fall (2020).
As a hitter, Vargas has incredible potential as a high-contact, full spray approach bat, though power is not expected to be an asset. So far, he has shown the ability to barrel balls well and has a good feel of the strike zone. Though, as he continues to age and add muscle, it will be vital for him to learn how to better use his legs to drive balls further and take advantage. With his plus speed, this would increase his offensive potential greatly.
As a fielder, Vargas possesses quick hands and a great range due to his plus speed, which helps him collect and field balls that many other shortstops cannot and continue to make plays on those balls. He also has solid upper-body strength which has led to a plus arm as well.
What Will the Future Hold?
After an important year of development was gone from 2020, Vargas is a player the Yankees need to promote correctly as to allow him the best path to take advantage of his potential. As a 17-year-old they were already putting him to the highest level of Rookie ball (Pulaski) which leads me to believe they’ll start him with the Tampa Tarpons (Class Low-A) for 2021. However, like his professional debut I expect this will bring a mid-season promotion to the Hudson Valley Renegades (Class High-A) as it would’ve been expected he would have gotten to the level in a normal 2020 season.
With an MLB ETA of 2023, Vargas would need to move quickly up the ladder though the framework above does allow for it. Personally, I would play it safe with the shortstop as to allow him to develop more physically in the lower minors and make the adjustments from that in the following years. Vargas is unfortunately the victim of an important lost year of development and a restructured minor league system which makes each level more competitive and harder to place a player with his experience at. He has no true MLB comps at this point, though I’d like to say an offensive profile like Jimmy Rollins could be his ceiling.