Thursday, February 27, 2014

Contemplating Kennys Vargas

OK, it's only batting practice. Batting practice in February, no less.

But Kennys Vargas has caught a few eyes this week with his batting practice long balls.

Kennys Vargas is, according to
Baseball America, the Twins
No. 20 prospect.
Batting practice or no, those are some serious shots. I've been to Hammond Stadium a few times, and I have yet to see a home run. Part of it is the wind -- it seems to blow in a lot, at least in March.

So who is Kennys Vargas? He's a big (6-5, 275) 23-year-old switch-hitter out of Puerto Rico who plays first base, but apparently not particularly well. He spent last year at High A Fort Myers, where he hit 19 homers and put up a slash line of .267/.344/.468, which isn't exactly eye popping. But, again, Fort Myers isn't an easy place to put up numbers.

It was his first full season in the minors. Vargas was in short season leagues until 2012, and that year he opened the season with a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance in an attempt to keep his weight under control. Since at the time he had most recently played for a short season team (Elizabethton), his suspension didn't begin until the Appy League started up. So he lost most of that year. He's not exactly on the fast track.

But he is on the 40-man roster, and presumably he'll slide up to Double A New Britain this spring. His future with the Twins, if any, is almost certainly as a designated hitter. Joe Mauer's at first base, of course, and Vargas isn't mobile enough to move to the outfield.

The Twins aren't real big on full-time DHs, but everybody likes hitters with light tower power. Miguel Sano has that. So does Vargas. What we don't know if if Vargas has anything else to his game that can translate in the major leagues.

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