Cesar Vargas was signed out of Mexico as an international free agent by Yankees in 2009
From 2009-2012 he was assigned to Rookie-league ball, and was an effective pitcher both in the pen and in the rotation. He generally allowed less hits then IP, and struck out around 7 per 9 IP.
Made it to affiliate ball in mid-2012, and in 2013 performed well: 108.1 IP, 86 hits with 83K. He started two games, but appeared in 20 out of the pen. He would get promoted towards to High-A late in the season.
His 2015 season in AA was pretty great too: 6-0, 40 IP with 26 hits and 40K, good for a 1.29 WHIP. But the Yankees allowed him to walk as a minor league free agent. He would sign with the Padres for the 2016 season.
At this point in his career he was not really making prospect lists. It seemed like a classic example of a guy with good numbers, but his role (mostly pen work) kept him off peoples radar.
In 2016 he would start the season in AA. The Padres switched him back to the rotation, and in two starts he went 12.2 IP, allowed 5 hits and striking out 14. Not bad! At this point he only had 5.1 innings in AAA, so it still seemed he had a way to go to make the majors.
Baseball America Scouting Report: “Vargas has a solid pitch mix, with a fastball in the low 90s, a slider that has averaged 83 mph and a slow curve that acts more like a changeup. He’s able to cut his fastball, and he runs it in and out to hitters. Vargas has an easy, repeatable delivery, and if he polishes his changeup and gets more consistent with his cutter, he could stay in the rotation long-term.”
The Padres had a hole in the rotation, and decided to call up Vargas to plug the hole.
He would go 0-3 in the majors, with a 5.03 ERA; 34 IP, 41 hits with 28K. His numbers are a little screwy since he was shelled in his last start, and prior to that he carried a 3.34 ERA over 32.2 innings. Not bad!
That last start, where he was hit hard over 2 innings, ended with him getting pulled. He would have a season ending flexor strain.
On 31 March the Padres designated him for assignment. That is…surprising. Between his great minor league numbers and solid major league showing, you would think they would have a spot on the 25 man roster. Especially the Padres.
I am sure it is only a matter of days before he is claimed. I really think that, at worst, he will be a solid pen arm with the ability to spot start.