Miguel Vargas shook off bizarre swing-less Dodgers Spring Training with a bang
Clearly, based on the way he's been forced to manage his own development at second base this spring, Dodgers top prospect Miguel Vargas is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.
Even if "whatever it takes" includes a never-before-seen strategy that we hope never to see again.
Staring down valuable experience at a new position while harboring a hairline fracture in his pinky was no picnic for Vargas, and after weighing the pros and cons of deploying him in regulation spring games rather than confining him to the backfield, the Dodgers decided the best course of action was to insert their top prospect in the lineup, but ban him from swinging.
It certainly could've been emasculating, in the wrong hands. After all, being a hitter is all about making solid contact, causing the pitcher to jump with the crack of the bat. Vargas was basically being sentenced to getting caught looking over and over and over again, which would be all worth it to build up a degree of comfort with his future double play partner Gavin Lux.
Oh. Right. That, too. There are layers to Vargas' spring Discomfort Showcase beyond what the Dodgers had even envisioned.
But then, something amazing happened. Vargas started to walk. He started to walk a lot. He out-OBP'd JD Martinez as a neutered batter without a stick. He learned the nuances of his position. And, yes, after finally being cleared to swing on Thursday, he roped a double deep into the left-center gap and over the wall on a hop.
Dodgers top prospect Miguel Vargas connects on booming double in first legal swings of spring
Vargas has maintained a sense of humor about the whole ordeal, telling Jack Harris of the LA Times that going down not swinging helped teach him how easy baseball can be if you take what pitchers give you.
"I mean, it told me if I don’t swing at the ball, I’ll probably be at first 50% of the time."- Miguel Vargas
Still, this process couldn't have been easy. Midway through developing a rapport with his partner, Lux was taken away for the season. He ended up on the losing end of a classic Zack Greinke cat-and-mouse game, unable to punch back and attack Greinke's goofiness. He only had a single tool in his toolbox, and he's lucky it worked. Otherwise, things could've gotten frustrating.
Now it's all systems go for Vargas, though, with plenty of time left before Opening Day.
While the Dodgers' position player depth chart remains unsettled, Dave Roberts all but confirmed that Jason Heyward will make the team, where he'll likely serve as a mentor to all-world performer James Outman and Vargas, who's played left and third primarily throughout his minor-league career.
Hopefully, second base is a bit less daunting now that he's piled up some reps, even if the process required dead silence at the plate.