By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Everett AquaSox season is just over a week old, but already there’s someone emerging as the go-to arm in the bullpen.
Richard Vargas has only made three appearances for the Sox, but those three outings can best be described as electric.
Vargas has faced 15 batters so far this season. He’s retired 14 of those, nine by strikeout. His efforts during Friday’s 6-5 extra-inning victory over Hillsboro were crucial as he shut down the Hops in the ninth and 10th innings, allowing just one single and fanning four.
“He and (Nick) Valenza really did a good job just keeping us in the game,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said. “We were down 4-0 early and they each threw two scoreless and kept us in it. Richard has done a great job all year. He’s got a big fastball, a pretty good slider, he’s got a high ceiling.”
The stats don’t tell the whole story about Vargas. The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic is rumored to have touched triple digits on the radar gun in the past. He hasn’t done that for the Sox just yet, but he’s been close. One fastball he threw Friday to punch out a Hillsboro batter was clocked by the Everett Memorial Stadium radar at 98 mph.
“I’ve heard (he’s hit 100 mph),” Mummau said. “I haven’t seen it, but I think it’s in there for sure. He’s thrown consistently 94-96, on occasion he’ll touch 97. So he’s got a big arm.”
Vargas hasn’t harnessed that in the past. He spent 2011 with Pulaski of the rookie Appalachian League and 2012 with Clinton of the mid-Class A Midwest League, but his results were middling. However, so far he’s stood out for the Sox.
“He sure has,” Mummau said. “He’s taken the ball each time, he throws the ball with conviction, he’ done a real nice job.”
There was a new towering presence during Everett’s batting practice Saturday.
Austin Wilson, the Seattle Mariners’ second-round pick in this year’s draft, joined the team, in accordance with reports from earlier this week. He had his first workout with the team before Saturday’s doubleheader, though he was not scheduled Wilson, a 21-year-old outfielder from Los Angeles, stands a mammoth 6-feet-5 inches and 245 pounds. This spring as a junior at Stanford University, he batted .288 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 31 games. That prompted the Mariners to select him with the 49th overall pick.
It was reported Friday that Wilson would likely make his Sox debut Monday against Hillsboro in the final game of Everett’s eight-game homestand. Everett manager Rob Mummau said only that Wilson would go through a couple workouts before getting into his first game early in the coming week.
Left-hander Ryan Horstman is expected to start on the mound for the Sox this afternoon. Ricardo Pereira was the originally scheduled starter. However, Everett pitching coach Rich Dorman said previously he intended to get Horstman, Seattle’s fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, into the rotation, and Pereira struggled in his first start…. In Friday’s game, Hillsboro successfully executed a double steal with runners on the corners. It was the second time three games the Sox allowed a double steal.