Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Future's Game Profile: Kennys Vargas

Top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are hurt otherwise they could each be heading back to their second straight Futures Game. Sano is out for the year after having Tommy John surgery and Buxton has been dealing with a wrist injury for most of the season. This left the door open for the Twins to look for a different player to add to the Futures Game roster.

Kennys Vargas might not even be a top 10 prospect in the Twins system (I didn't have him on my updated top 10 list following the draft) but he is having a very good season. Some players can struggle with the jump from High-A to Double-A but Vargas has made a seamless transition. He hit .267/.344/.468 with 19 home runs last season in Fort Myers. He led the Florida State League in RBIs (93) and tied for second in home runs in 2013.

This season he is on pace to break those marks in the Eastern League. He collected 14 home runs and 57 RBI before the end of June. Both of these totals put him near the top of the league. The Twins have also been happy with the improvements he has made on the defensive side of the ball. As a 6-foot-5, 275-pound first baseman, there can be some struggles in the field but he a career high fielding percentage half way through the year.

Another area of improvement for Vargas this year has been his strikeout to walk rate. Last season he struck out over 100 times and was issued a free pass on 50 occasions. His walk rate is a little over 1% more than last season but he is striking out in less than 16% of his plate appearances. In every other season he has struck out over 20% of the time. 

Compared to the rest of the Eastern League, Vargas is almost two years younger than the rest of the hitters. He is in his age 23 season and he will turn 24 at the beginning of August. If Vargas is able to continue his small improvements, the Twins could move Vargas up to Rochester before the end of the year. He has yet to play at two different levels in the same minor league season so he could deserve a reward. Perhaps a September call-up might even be in order.

These small improvements have made a big difference for Vargas. His size limits his positional flexibility on the field but he could still be a valuable asset on a future Twins roster.

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