Vargas signed with Cleveland at the start of 2016’s J2 period. He didn’t appear in an official professional game until this season, and the Indians skipped him over the Dominican Summer League to make his pro debut in the AZL. Vargas’ electric raw stuff has turned heads this summer. He’s striking out more than a batter per inning and posting a respectable ERA, though his 15-percent walk rate shows how raw the control and pitchability are.
Tall and lean at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, the 18-year-old is a plus athlete with wiry features and a lightning-fast arm. There isn’t much effort to his delivery, but he lands closed and struggles to repeat his semi-windup and often falls off-line. Vargas is enough of an athlete to correct his lines to the plate, and while it’s a below-average delivery now that hinders his control and command, the physical tools are here to iron things out. The fastball was electric in my look, never falling below 94 mph and scraping the 97-to-98 mph range at best. It was very straight early in the game, especially when up, but showed flashes of armside run as his velocity settled into the mid-90s later in the outing. His secondary pitch is a hard slider at 84-to-88 mph that flashes sharp bite and late action at best. His inconsistent mechanics and release points limit the consistency of the slider, but the ingredients for a future above-average breaking ball are in the tank. Vargas is mostly a two-pitch guy right now, but he overthrows his slider around 89-to-90 mph at times and it looks like a cutter. It’s an interesting wrinkle that could develop into a third pitch.
It would be great if Vargas were ready for full-season ball when Spring Training breaks in 2019, but it seems more likely he stays back in Extended and heads to a short-season affiliate. He’s the epitome of a risk/reward pitcher: raw enough to be a lotto ticket type of prospect, albeit one whose fastball and slider could be plus pitches down the road.