Ildemaro Vargas’ weekend brings new meaning to “short stop.”
The shortstop’s historic year with the Reno Aces was interrupted briefly on Friday when he was promoted to the Aces’ parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Vargas suited up for Saturday’s game in San Diego against the Padres, but he did not play. After the contest, Vargas was sent back down to Reno. It was his second big-league call-up.
The activity did not affect Vargas on the field. On Sunday, he went 2-for-4 and extended his season-long hit streak to 25 games in the Aces 8-0 win against Round Rock, Texas. Vargas is batting .300 with 112 hits and 43 RBIs. His two hits on Sunday moved him into sole possession of second place in Aces franchise history with 344. The record is 399 and is held by Cole Gillespie.
Vargas, 27, was promoted to the Dbacks after infielder Jake Lamb went on the disabled list.
Arizona later acquired Minnesota Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar for outfielders Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel and right-hand pitcher Jhoan Duran. When Escobar was activated, Vargas was sent back to Triple-A Reno.
Escobar adds a much-needed pop with 15 homers and 63 RBIs this year.
Over the weekend, Arizona placed third baseman Deven Marrero on a rehab assignment. “Marrero is not rehabbing with us, but it could be possible that he makes his way to Reno before heading back to Phoenix,” Jackson Gaskins, the Aces communications manager, told Tahoe Onstage on Monday.
The Aces are 54-53 this season and have moved into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division. They are eight games behind first-place Fresno Grizzlies. On Monday, they will finish a weeklong road trip through New Orleans and Austin, Texas. The club returns to Reno on Wednesday to open a seven game home stand against Colorado Springs and Oklahoma City.
Nicknamed “El Tigre,” Vargas makes glove-to-hand transfers with cat-like quickness and gets his jersey dirty stopping line drives in the gap. It’s a rare occasion when a ball gets past the rangy Vargas. He sports a .955 fielding percentage with just eight errors to 212 assists.
It’s difficult to catch Vargas without a bright smile across his face. Teammates and fans have fed off his energy throughout his three years in the Biggest Little City. Part of his pregame ritual is to play catch with children in the stands. When it is time for the game to start, he will give the baseball to the young fan. Sometimes his 3-year-old son A.J. joins Vargas on the field during warm ups.
“Vargy keeps it loose for sure,” Aces first baseman Christian Walker said. “Since I’ve gotten to know him, he likes cracking jokes and making us laugh. He’s a cool guy to be around and it’s fun to have guys like that throughout the season.”
Vargas made his second consecutive Triple-A All-Star Game appearance earlier this season. He appeared in 12 games for the Dbacks in 2017, hitting .308 with four RBIs.
Vargas’ defensive versatility is a bonus for Arizona, which placed third baseman Lamb on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder injury. A 2017 All-Star, Lamb is hitting .222 with six homers.
— Isaiah Burrows