Known more for his arm than his high level of pitch-ability, to his credit, Vargas, who will sits in the low to mid-90s with his fastball consistently, has always been more of a performer than he's been given credit for over the years. He posted a great 2.12 ERA a year ago in the Gulf Coast League and despite his inconsistencies from both start to start and even inning to inning this season he has chipped with a team-leading 104.2 innings so far this season.
His solid season thus far hasn't come without its bumps in the road either. He posted a 5.04 ERA during a six-start span in June but has gotten increasingly better since then, posting a 2.31 ERA in his seven games since then. It has been a long road so far in his first full season and even Vargas admitted that Spring Training was not his best showing, but he is trying to move on and be a better player than he was before.
“It was my first full Spring Training and it did not go as well as I would have hoped, but I continued to play and I got better and eventually got the call up,” Vargas said with the help of a translator. “The adjustment to here was hard. I worked on all the stuff I was not able to work on during Spring Training and was trying to correct myself as best I could with my delivery and command, and trying to attack the “in the box” pitches.”
In his first full season with the Riverdogs he has posted an 8-6 record with a 3.10 ERA. The eight victories leads the team as does his 104.2 innings. It is a pretty solid showing for somebody relatively new to pitching and it is clear that he is doing his best to prove to his coaches that he is a long-term talent.
Charleston pitching coach Justin Pope and manager Luis Dorante were able to comment on Vargas and how he has been doing so far this season. They are confident as well as his teammates that he can be his best self and be a better player all-around going forward.
“We want him pitching in the big leagues," Pope said. "His stuff plays up really well. With his stuff in the rotation pitching for a solid six innings, that is what the organization wants and needs."
“He has struggled a little bit in the second half of the season with his command but it’s like everybody else: he has good days and he has bad days," Dorante added.. "He just has to keep working."
And perhaps that is the most impressive thing with Vargas; he has been, and remains a work in progress, and yet the numbers year in and year out are still quite good. His 2016 so far in Charleston is emblematic of that too.
“We’re trying new things," Pope said. "We’re trying to work on the direction of his changeup. It’s wide open a little bit at this point and before the All-Star break he was really good. His ERA was good and he was commanding the fastball really well. His slider needs to get a little better, which he has been working on.”
He has been a professional baseball player for four years now -- nearly three years of it spent at the Dominican Summer League level -- and being only at the single-A level might hurt his confidence a little bit but he is making the best of it, and he is confident that he’ll get there one day.
As his numbers show, he is improving every day and working with his coaches and just playing baseball like he knows how to do. Getting more innings in more games will surely help boost his confidence and morale going forward. It’s been a tough road thus far but Vargas is not shaken.
“I’m trying to be more consistent with my pitching mechanics and delivery so I can throw more strikes and be consistent with every pitch," Vargas said. "My command has been the biggest part of what I’ve been working on in Charleston and it’s been going well.”
Dorante believes he’s putting himself on the map as a prospect to watch out for in the future with the season he's had thus far, especially with the way he continues to shows of improvement.
“He is a guy that when he’s on and at his best, he will go out there and compete. He needs to improve on a little bit of everything going forward. His fastball command, which he has been working on this season is a big one, but it is all coming together.”