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Carlos Vargas is our No. 20 Cleveland prospect

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The hardest-throwing starting pitching prospect in Cleveland’s system was added to the 40-man roster in November.

Boston Red Sox Summer Camp Workout Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Carlos Vargas is the No. 20 prospect in the Cleveland system, making his debut in the LGT prospect rankings by earning 23% of the final vote.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-handed pitcher was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016.

At just 18 years old, Vargas turned heads when he debuted in the Arizona Summer League by hitting 100 mph during his starts, although he had issues with control, walking 24 batters and striking out 41 in 34.1 innings pitched.

Vargas’ control improved dramatically in his sophomore season, cutting his walk-rate in half by walking the same amount of batters (24) despite more than doubling his innings (77.2) as he advanced to Low-A Mahoning Valley.

While his overall numbers in 2019 weren’t exactly eye-popping (4.52 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 1.25 WHIP), they were a tad skewed by one particularly bad start (2.1 IP, 10 H, 9 ER).

By mid-season in 2019, Vargas was already being stretched out to seven innings in his starts, a rarity for someone so young in the system. In fact, he had two starts in the season where he tossed seven innings, allowing a combined one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts and just two walks.

While Vargas is known for his fastball, he also possesses a wicked slider and an improving changeup. He was added to Cleveland’s 40-man roster in the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft despite never having appeared in a full-season game. Cleveland doesn’t do that with just anyone. If he can continue to improve his control, he could be a serious weapon either as a mid-rotation starter down the line or as a flamethrowing member of the bullpen.

Vargas could start the season in Single-A Lynchburg or High-A Lake County depending on what the Cleveland brass thinks of his current level of development.