We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.
D minus 47: Ildemaro Vargas
- Date of birth: July 16, 1991
- Ht/Wt: 6’0”, 170 lbs
- Position: Infielder
- Status: 40-man roster
- Bats/Throws: S/L
- 2016 MLB numbers: DNP
- SnakePit Rating: 3.05 [pattern of votes below]
The first member of the 40-man roster to be covered here, so perhaps cements his status as “perhaps the most overlooked man” on that roster, given to him by Michael last month. Vargas was given another chance by Arizona in 2016, after being released by St. Louis and a brief spell with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League. Last year, Vargas started off with Double-A Mobile and the then 24-year-old batted .276, but showed good bat control, walking as many times as he struck out. He was mostly a shortstop for the BayBears, but moved to the other side of the middle infield after a promotion in mid-July to Triple-A Reno.
And that’s where Vargas’s bat really caught fire. In 49 games for the Aces, he hit .354/.418/.449, and struck out only 13 times in 224 plate appearances, compared to 20 walks. He was also highly effective all year long on the base-paths, stealing 21 bags in 22 attempts. This winter, he has been playing in the Venezuelan Winter League for the Cardenales de Lara, and in 54 games for them, hit .305 - again, with more walks (24) than strikeouts (20), for a .376 on-base percentage. His six stolen-bases tied him for the team lead. Ildemaro will never hit for power, managing only six HR in 579 PA across all minor-league levels, but his skill-set and positional flexibility has potential.
He’s also a switch-hitter, which provides another point of use. This year, he was particularly effective batting from the right-hand side; against lefties, he hit .386, with a 1.059 OPS, four hundred points better than when turned around. The previous year, his splits weren’t quite as pronounced, but it’s something to bear in mind. There will likely be plenty of competition for the bench roster spots this spring, with Nick Ahmed, Daniel Descalso and Ketel Marte all probably starting the pre-season ahead of Vargas. But youth is certainly on his side. Below are some defensive plays from him in the Venezuelan League.