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Colorado Rockies prospects: No. 21, Jordy Vargas

The 18-year-old RHP has MLB bloodlines and will look to make a strong stateside debut soon

21. Jordy Vargas (153 points, 13 ballots)

Jordy Vargas was one of Colorado’s headline prospects from their January 2021 amateur free agent class, signing for $500k out of the Dominican Republic. The 18-year-old righty pitcher has MLB bloodlines, as he is the son of pitcher Yorkis Perez, who played in parts of nine big league seasons for five different teams — and who had three cousins also play in MLB.

Vargas spent his debut season in the Dominican Summer League a few months after signing, where he was 1.7 years younger than league average. In 11 appearances, the 6’3”, 153-pound hurler threw 34 23 innings with an ERA of 1.30 (3.12 xFIP), 0.98 WHIP, and a 46:16 K:BB ratio without allowing a home run. Those numbers were good though not totally out of place for the pitcher friendly DSL, but the scouting report on Vargas provided by FanGraphs was a differentiator.

Here’s some video of Vargas (nickname: El Fido) from April 2019 taken at a prospect showcase:

Since that video was taken, the stuff has taken a step forward for Vargas. In their January system review, FanGraphs ranked Vargas 5th overall with a 45 FV grade:

Among the most exciting pitching prospects in the entire Dominican Summer League was Vargas, an ultra-projectable, loose, strike-throwing starter prospect with a curvaceous breaking ball. At age 18, Vargas is already sitting 93-95 mph with disruptive tailing action, and his curveball is a knee-buckling parabola of death. His fastball’s shape doesn’t really complement his curveball right now but Vargas is too young to really worry about that. The ease of his delivery and his ability to throw strikes both facilitate starter projection, and his extremely lanky, broad-shouldered build not only generates hope that he can maintain mid-90s heat under a starter’s workload, but also that he may continue to throw harder as he matures. Were Vargas a stateside high schooler, we’d be talking about him as a mid-first round type of prospect.

That evaluation includes a 60 Future grade on both the heater and the hammer. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs (who hasn’t seen Vargas in person) further commented on Vargas when discussing how heuristics get used to help rank prospects:

It can be challenging to drop Vargas right into the Rockies list for initial consideration, since he and someone like Ryan Vilade are apples-and-oranges in the extreme. It’s much cleaner to step back and compare Vargas, apples-to-apples, with same-aged pitching prospects across the global baseball landscape to get a sense of where he fits among that sub-group, assign him a FV grade in that context, and then move him onto the Rockies list. In Vargas’ case, his skill set is very similar to that of high school pitchers taken in the mid-to-late first round of a given draft (projectable 6-foot-3, gorgeous delivery, already throwing in the mid-90s, an excellent curveball), so we can use our heuristic FV for that type of player (in this case a 45) to get an initial sense of where he should be on the Rockies list even though I haven’t seen him, and then try to polish his grade from there.

Clearly Vargas is a player who is far away from MLB contribution but who, via looking at pitch data and video, possesses tremendous upside as a prospect. Furthermore, at this point Vargas appears to be likely to remain a starter long-term. That written, I’m going to wait for a strong stateside debut and more corroborating scouting reports before I jump Vargas into the system’s top five, as FanGraphs did. I ranked Vargas 19th on my personal list with a 40+ Future Value, and I hope an ACL or even Low-A debut in 2022 will prove that ranking to be way too low.