With 114.4-mph exit velocity, his 2-run shot for Puerto Rico is hardest recorded HR by Minnesota player
By Andrew Simon
Kennys Vargas spent the majority of last season at Triple-A, but the switch-hitter also showed off his slugging ability in the big leagues, smacking 10 home runs in 47 games for the Twins.
The 26-year-old, who this spring is competing for a spot in Minnesota's lineup, put his powerful bat on full display on Saturday afternoon in Puerto Rico's 13-2 victory over Venezuela in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Vargas went 2-for-5 with a walk and an impressive two-run homer in the win, as Puerto Rico improved to 6-0 in the tournament on its way to the semifinals.
Vargas' squad will face the Netherlands on Monday at Dodger Stadium (9 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV), looking to advance to Wednesday's championship.
With Puerto Rico already holding an 11-2 lead in the top of the ninth on Saturday at San Diego's Petco Park, Vargas stepped in left-handed against Venezuela righty Hector Rondon, who grooved a 95.6-mph fastball up and out over the plate. Vargas pounced on it for a two-run shot.
With an exit velocity of 114.4 mph and a low launch angle of 21 degrees, the ball wasted no time whistling over the right-field wall with a projected distance of 380 feet.
That exit velocity was higher than any recorded on a home run by a Twins player during the Statcast™ Era (2015-16), topping a 114.2-mph rocket Miguel Sano hit at Tampa Bay last Aug. 7. Vargas had set his personal best of 113.1 mph from the right side of the plate back on April 16, 2015, against the Royals at Target Field.
In fact, Vargas homer would have been tied with Mike Trout and Justin Upton for the 18th-hardest exit velocity on a homer by any MLB player last season. Only 11 individual players hit one harder, led by Carlos Gonzalez at 117.4 mph.
Meanwhile, the 21-degree launch angle was Vargas' second lowest on a homer in the Statcast™ Era, behind a 20-degree shot against the White Sox on May 3, 2015. Vargas' 15 long balls during that time have averaged 28 degrees.
The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.