Scouting Report: Cesar Vargas

Vargas is a real 'sleeper' prospect

The Yankees signed right-handed pitcher Cesar Vargas out of Mexico back in 2009. Despite posting solid numbers annually, he spent his first three seasons harnessing his game in the Dominican Summer League and really turned some heads with his United States debut in 2012.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Cesar Vargas
Position: Pitcher
DOB: December 30, 1991
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He wound up being one of the most consistent pitchers for the Gulf Coast League Yankees this past season, posting a 2.97 ERA and striking out 30 batters in a little more than 36 innings pitched before a solid two-game trial with the Charleston RiverDogs at season's end.

"I heard he is a guy who knows how to throw strikes and that's what we saw in his first outing," RiverDogs manager Carlos Mendoza told PinstripesPlus.com towards the end of the year.

"He has good movement on his fastball, and just a good feel for pitching overall. He is a young guy, first year here in the States, and he is doing a good job making that transition."

"He was composed and he threw strikes with all of his pitches," RiverDogs pitching coach Danny Borrell added. "He spins the ball well and has a nice changeup, and that ball cuts."

He got lost a little bit in the depth of the GCL Yankee pitching staff, one that rolled out a lot of hurlers with mid-90s fastballs, but it was his advanced feel for pitching and the movement on his pitches that really stood out.

"From what I've seen, he has a great fastball that cuts," Mendoza said. "His changeup and curveball are great out pitches. He just needs to get stronger and keep working within a routine."

While the stuff isn't of the plus variety, it is very advanced for a lower level pitching prospect and it already grades out as above big league average. There's still to be work done, however, going forward.

"Just like anything else, it's all about dealing with different hitters," Borrell said. "In his first start, he didn't seem intimidated. He just went out there looking to throw strikes.

"He just needs to repeat his delivery and get his release point down. He seems like a smart, athletic kid so he should be fun to watch."

Vargas himself approached the 2012 season as a learning year, especially after spending so much time down in the Dominican Republic. The good news is he seems to be a quick learner too.

"It's different down there," Vargas explained. "In the Dominican, hitters are mostly looking for the fastball, and here [in the United States] they are more selective through the strike zone and looking for that pitch they can drive.

"I approached baseball down there with a learning attitude. I wanted to do whatever I had to do to develop as a baseball player so I could move on. I worked really hard and was able to gain a lot of experience."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

Charleston

0-0

0

9.2

10

4

8

3.72

2012

GCL Yankees

3-2

2

36.1

36

8

30

2.97

2011

DSL Yankees1

5-4

0

71.2

46

28

85

2.39

2010

DSL Yankees2

2-2

2

39.1

37

10

34

2.06

2009

DSL Yankees1

2-1

3

36.0

39

11

30

3.50



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Vargas will never be confused with a power arm but what he lacks in sheer velocity he more than makes up for with above average movement, effortless motion with some deception, and innate strike-throwing ability with his fastball. It's not like it's soft either, however, sitting mostly in the 91-92 mph range and topping out at 94 mph. While he does pepper the zone with strikes though, the command in the lower-half of the zone could be better.

Other Pitches. It's rare for a lower level pitching prospect to have two reliable secondary pitches and even more of an oddity when he doesn't favor one over the other, but that's exactly the case with Vargas. He has an above average curveball that sits in the 78-81 mph range with good downward spinning action and an above average changeup that he has great confidence in throwing in any count. Both pitches still have room to get better too.

Pitching. Vargas is a pain for lower level hitters because he has three quality pitches and the confidence, and more importantly the conviction, to throw any of them in any count and that makes him extremely difficult to figure out. While the strike-throwing and stuff are very consistent, his mechanics can be sporadic and that does mess up his release point at times, but he shows an ability to make quick in-game adjustments for a younger pitcher. He has a real calm demeanor on the mound and doesn't get rattled very often.

Projection. It's because of Vargas' ability to throw so many strikes that makes him extremely efficient on the mound, one who can pitch deep into games. Throw in a relatively effortless motion too and he has the chance to be a real innings eater down the road, especially with three big league pitches at his disposal. The entire package gives him middle to back-end big league starting potential, but he will need to have more consistent mechanics and better command within the zone for him to be nearly as effective against more advanced hitters and tap that kind of ceiling. Think of former Yankee pitching prospect Hector Noesi for a big league comparison.

ETA. 2016. Barring a disastrous Spring Training, Vargas should begin the 2013 season back in Charleston. There is a real good chance he could receive a promotion to high-A Tampa later in the year if he continues to pitch as well as he has so far in his career.

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