The Los Angeles Dodgers named Miguel Vargas the 2021 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year, and Hyun-il Choi as the organization’s Pitcher of the Year. Both prospects were celebrated and received their awards during a pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
Because the Minor League season was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Vargas and Choi are the first players to earn the awards since Gavin Lux and Josiah Gray, respectively, in 2019.
Vargas was among the non-roster invitees to 2021 Spring Training, and he appeared in eight Cactus League games. Vargas went hitless in nine at-bats, but did score two runs and collected an RBI.
The 21-year-old then began the season with High-A Great Lakes, primarily playing third base but also making spot starts at first base and second base.
Vargas batted .314/.366/.532 with 11 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 16 RBI over 47 games with the Loons. That earned him a promotion to Double-A Tulsa on June 6, and the versatile infielder continued to slug.
Vargas appeared in 83 games for the Drillers and raised all his averages to .321/.386/.523, to go along with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 60 RBI.
Among qualified Double-A batters, Vargas ranked third in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging and third in on-base plus slugging (.909). He was named Double-A Central Player of the Month for August.
The Cuban native signed with the Dodgers as an international free agent on Sept. 7, 2017.
Choi has successful first season with Dodgers
Another international signing, Choi also played at two Minor League levels this year, which was his first full Minor League season since joining the organization.
Choi began the 2021 campaign with Low-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 8-3 with a 3.17 ERA and 75 strikeouts over 24 games (11 starts).
After earning a promotion to the Loons on July 31, the right-hander didn’t earn a win as he went 0-3 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts.
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