Reno Aces’ shortstop Ildemaro Vargas has a smile that’s worth a thousand words, but his play does the talking.
Vargas, 26, extended his hitting streak to 14 games Friday night in a 13-5 beatdown on the Iowa Cubs. His streak is the longest for the Aces this year. Reno won two out of three games against Iowa to capture their fourth-straight series win.
The switch hitter .266 on the season with four home runs, 31 RBIs and 33 runs scored. He is hitting right-hand pitchers well, with a .292 average (58-for-198) with five triples. He’s 11-for-64 with two homers against lefties.
His smooth swing complements his sure-handed glove work at shortstop. In 60 games, Vargas has a .983 fielding percentage, 87 putouts and 140 assists, with just four errors.
“I’m just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Vargas said via an interpreter after the game. “With this team, a lot of runs can be scored. So it’s my goal to make some solid contact and get on base to put some runs on the board. That’s all I try to do, make plays, at the plate or in the field.”
A native of Caripotio Venezuela, Vargas was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 2008. At the age of 19, he hit .289 with 13 extra base-hits with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2011. The Dbacks signed Vargas to a minor league deal in 2015, and he’s found a home in The Biggest Little City ever since.
“The locker room is very fun and I enjoy playing with all the guys,” Vargas said. “I try to give these fans a good time, and I have fun doing it myself, I feel comfortable here.”
In his first full season with Reno, Vargas set single-season [pullquote]I try to give these fans a good time, and I have fun doing it myself, I feel comfortable here.”[/pullquote]career highs in runs (87), total bases (265), doubles (35), homers (10) and RBIs (65). His 152 hits were fourth among batters in the Pacific Coast League, enough to earn him a spot on the 2017 PCL All-Star team. Vargas made his big-league debut with
Arizona in late June last year, going 4-for-13 with four RBIs in 12 games.
Vargas is popular in the clubhouse.
“Vargy keeps it loose for sure,” Aces’ slugger 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. It’s fun to have guys like that with you throughout the season.”
Vargas is leading a scorching-hot Aces’ offense, and he’s just a call-up away from the majors in Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. The Dbacks’ incumbent shortstop Nick Ahmed has a .218 batting average with nine homers and 31 runs driven in.
Aces win series
Reno and Iowa combined for 30 hits on fireworks night.
The wind at Greater Nevada Field howled toward right again. Socrates Brito hit a towering 477-foot blast to right. He has launched bombs in two-straight games while hitting .345 with six homers and 34 RBIs on the season. The right fielder also flashed his glove with a diving catch in the fifth inning.
Juniel Querecuto was called up a week ago from Double-A and inserted at second base. He’s had a hit in all of his seven games with the Aces and is batting .345. He was hitting .369 with the Jackson Generals. Last year, he was with the Giants’ Triple-A team, the Sacramento River Cats, batting .232.
Reno’s Cesar Puello (.338) went 3-for-6 with a homer and 4 RBIs.
Southpaw Anthony Vasquez got the nod from Aces’ skipper Greg Gross Friday with 6,323 fans in attendance. Vasquez earned his fifth win of the season, pitching five innings, giving up four runs on nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Iowa starter Jen-Ho Tseng lasted just 2.1 innings, surrendering nine earned runs on 12 hits.
Chicago Cubs’ top catching prospect Victor Caratini finished 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Caratini, 24, has 17 hits in 65 at-bats in 26 games with Chicago this season.
Third baseman Mike Freeman, who is fourth all time in base hits with the Aces, had three with his new team, Iowa.
Cubs shortstop David Bote got the party started with a two-RBI double in the gap in right-center. Puello’s two-run dinger and Kevin Cron’s two-RBI rip up the middle put Reno up 4-2 in the first inning. The Aces poured it on, tallying 12 runs on 14 hits in the first three frames of play.
Cron and his Throne: Kevin Cron is in sole possession of the Aces’ RBI leaderboard with 35 on the season. Activated from the disabled list on May 4, Cron is hitting .280 with eight homers in 37 games with the Dbacks’ Triple-A affiliate.
Notes: Vargas is batting .318 with runners in scoring position this season. … Reno is 23-16 all-time against Iowa. Every starter in the Aces’ lineup got a hit in the victory. …
On Deck: The Aces (32-36) will kick-off a four-game series against the Omaha Storm Chasers (30-36) Saturday. Aces hurler Alex Young will oppose Glenn Sparkman. The first pitch is at 7:05 p.m.