- Date of birth: July 16th, 1991
- 2017 line: 12 games, .308/.308/.385 = .693 OPS, 13 PA, 3 K
- 2017 value: 0.0 bWAR
- 2017 salary: minimum
- SnakePit rating: 3.39
12 games into his major-league career, Ildemaro Vargas has still yet to make a start. The closest he came was in the final game of the season, where he entered in the 3rd inning after A.J. Pollock pulled up lame running out a ground-ball. Ildemaro made the most of that unexpected opportunity, getting 75% of his hits and 100% of his RBI for the season, by going 3-for-4 and driving in four runs. His debut came before the rosters expanded in September, making a couple of appearances off the bench at the end of June, after Nick Ahmed went down for the season. It took Vargas a long while to reach the show: 2,734 minor-league at-bats, in fact.
His first pro ball was in 2008 with the Cardinals, who released him at the end of spring training in 2015. He’s another product of our aggressive indie ball scouting: Ildemaro was with the Bridgeport Bluefish when we signed him in May 2015. He spent most of this season in AAA (113 games for Reno) and hit well, batting .312 with an .817 OPS, though the usual PCL warning applies there. While appearing mostly at 2B, he also started at SS, 3B and even CF, showcasing the versatility which is one of his assets. He’s that at the plate too, being a switch-hitter. Vargas handled the bat better as a RHB, his OPS 119 points better overall in 2017 than as a leftie.
Before his first game in the Majors, Ildemaro Vargas shares a special moment with his son. pic.twitter.com/GOaWwt8D87— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) June 29, 2017
Here’s what John Sickels of Minor League Ball wrote about Vargas around the time of his first call-up: “He’s not a home run hitter, but he is not completely punchless and can find the gaps for distance, particularly to the opposite field. Vargas is somewhat aggressive and won’t draw large numbers of walks, but he doesn’t strike out much either. His speed is a bit above-average and he is very adept at using it: he’s 28 for 32 as a stealer since signing with Arizona. Overall, his combination of versatility, speed, and line drive switch-hitting can make him a solid bench option.”
Presuming health, the Diamondbacks are not short of middle infield options ahead of Vargas, between Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and, now, Ketel Marte. He’ll also compete with fellow prospect Jack Reinheimer for any open spots. As early as spring training this season, it was being suggested Vargas could be traded, or his progress could render Ahmed able to be dealt. Both are still possible, although Lovullo spoke highly of him at that time, saying Vargas has the “ability to play the game full speed without the fear of making a mistake.” The versatility does make him a good potential bench candidate, even if a few more walks would be helpful.