Kennys Vargas

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Kennys Vargas

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Biographical Information[edit]

Kennys Vargas made his major league debut on his 24th birthday.

Vargas was undrafted out of high school. Minnesota Twins scout Hector Otero signed him as a free agent in 2009. He hit .257/.369/.404 as the main first baseman for the GCL Twins that summer; with his big strike zone, though, he whiffed in 34 of 109 AB. He batted .324/.388/.507 with 15 doubles in 39 games for the GCL Twins in 2010. Had he qualified, he would have been third in the Gulf Coast League in average and third in OPS (behind Randolph Oduber and Ramon Flores). Despite his lesser playing time, he still tied Eric Avila, Geancarlo Mendez and Patrick Murray for second in doubles, one behind Alex Sanchez. He was named the GCL All-Star first baseman. With the Indios de Mayagüez in the Puerto Rican League, he was 6 for 23 with two doubles, a homer, two walks, four runs and four RBI in 7 games.

In 2011, he hit .322/.377/.489 with 33 RBI in 44 games for the Elizabethton Twins, striking out in 50 of 174 AB. He was 10th in the Appalachian League in average, between Taylor Motter and Kyle Kubitza. The big first baseman saw limited action with the 2012 Beloit Snappers but batted .318/.419/.610 with 11 HR and 36 RBI in 41 games. In the winter, he hit only .181/.280/.333 in 25 games for the Indios. He played his first full summer in the US in '13, producing at a .267/.344/.468 clip with 33 doubles, 19 home runs and 93 RBI in 125 games for the Fort Myers Miracle. He was on the Florida State League leaderboard in runs (68, 8th, between Dustin Lawley and Robert Refsnyder), doubles (tied for 4th with Lawley and Richie Shaffer), homers (tied for second with Nick Ramirez and K.C. Hobson, 6 behind Lawley), RBI (1st, one ahead of Lawley), total bases (4th), slugging (3rd, behind Lawley and Jonathan Rodriguez) and OPS (7th, between Brent Keys and Refsnyder). Among Twins farmhands, he tied Reynaldo Rodriguez for second in doubles, tied Dalton Hicks for 9th in runs, was 5th in home runs (between Rodriguez and Hicks), ranked 4th in RBI (between Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco), was 8th in total bases (between Chris Colabello and Polanco), ranked 10th in walks and led in double play grounders (20). He was named the FSL All-Star DH; Rodriguez was picked at 1B.

In winter ball in 2013-2014, Kennys hit .261/.331/.413 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI in 38 games. He tied Andy Gonzalez for 6th in the Puerto Rican League in RBI and tied Jordan Lennerton and Anthony Garcia for third in dingers, behind only Jonathan Singleton and Randy Ruiz. He then came up big in the championship finale. With the game 1-1 in the 8th, he hit a grand slam off Jose de la Torre to give the Indios to the title and a trip to the 2014 Caribbean Series. He hit .278/.333/.333 in the Series.

Kennys was assigned to the New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern League in 2014. In 97 games, he hit .281/.360/.472 with 17 doubles and as many homers. He played in the 2014 Futures Game, which took place in his future home ballpark, Target Field. Hitting cleanup and playing 1B for the World team in a 3-2 loss, he fanned against Henry Owens in the first, doubled off Hunter Harvey in the 4th, whiffed against Lucas Giolito in the 6th and grounded out facing Robert Stephenson in the 8th.

He was called up to Minnesota on August 1st, making his big league debut on his 24th birthday against the Chicago White Sox, starting at first base. He went 1 for 5 that day; thing started poorly as he struck out against Chris Sale with the bases loaded in the 1st, then committed an error in the 2nd, but he got back at Sale with a two-run ground-rule double in the 3rd for his first big league hit, then moved to third on a passed ball and came in to score on a ground out by Chris Colabello. He hit .274/.316/.456 with 9 homers in 215 at-bats for the 2014 Twins, with a 98 OPS+. His first MLB homer was a game-winning three-run shot off Jesse Hahn.

In winter ball for the Indios in 2014-2015, he hit .263/.430/.482 with 6 homers and 33 walks in 37 games. He was second in home runs (four behind García), tied Ozzie Martínez for 4th in RBI (22), led in walks (11 more than Ruben Gotay), led in OBP (.008 ahead of Garcia and Martinez) and was 3rd in both slugging and OPS (behind Garcia and Martinez). He split the 2015 season between the Chattanooga Lookouts (.287/4.17/.516, 26 BB in 35 G), Rochester (.279/.411/.475, 26 BB in 38 G) and the major league Twins (.240/.277/.349, 54 K in 175 AB). He actually started the year in Minnesota as the regular DH, but his mediocre hitting sealed his fate, as the team had a number of up-and-coming hitter they wanted to see play in the Show, with Miguel Sano being Kennys's most direct competitor. He was sent down to the minors on July 1st, then came back to spend September with the team.

Vargas produced at a .308/.390/.525 clip with 7 homers in 33 games for Mayagüez in 2015-2016. He finished among the league lesders in average (4th, between Jose Lozado and Jesús Feliciano), OBP (4th, between Reymond Fuentes and Johnny Monell Jr.), slugging (1st by .099 over Fuentes), OPS (1st, .091 over Fuentes), runs (21, tied for 2nd, 5 behind Jesmuel Valentin), home runs (1st, 3 ahead of Trever Adams and Garcia), RBI (3rd with 20, behind Ruiz]and Garcia) and total bases (63, 1st, 8 ahead of Fuentes and Jeffrey Dominguez). He was the unanimous pick as the All-Star first baseman (the only unanimous All-Star that season) and won MVP as well. He was the first MVP from the Indios since José Hernández 18 years earlier. While Mayagüez was eliminated in the league playoffs, Vargas was then added to the champion Cangrejeros de Santurce's roster for the 2016 Caribbean Series, as participating teams are allowed to bolster their rosters with a few additional national players for the event. He played 47 games for the Twins in 2016, hitting .230 with 10 homers and 20 RBIs. he also played 96 games for the AAA Rochester Red Wings, where he hit .233 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs. In 2017, Vargas again split his season between the Twins and Rochester. His batting average was the same at both levels - .253, with 9 homers in 51 games in AAA and 11 in 78 games with Minnesota, driving in 41 runs. The Twins made it to the Wild Card Game, but Vargas did not play in that game.

On March 16, 2018 he was designated for assignment when it became clear he would not make the team and the Twins needed an additional spot on the 40-man roster for OF Jake Cave, acquired from the New York Yankees in a minor league trade. His chance at playing at the major league level had taken a hit when the Twins had signed 1B Logan Morrison earlier in spring training. On March 22nd, the Cincinnati Reds claimed him off waivers.


Further Reading[edit]

  • Jesse Sanchez: "Vargas hoping to capitalize on trip to Caribbean Series: Slugger hopes winter ball in Puerto Rico helps him earn more time with Twins",, February 1, 2016. [1]

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