#MLBPlayers411 | Jason Vargas
The Royals have struggled so far but just a handful of guys in the entire league have been as impressive as pitcher Jason Vargas, today's #MLBPlayers411 subject, to start the 2017 season.
Through 37.2 innings, the veteran left-hander leads all starting pitchers with a 1.19 era to go along with 35 strikeouts and a 4-1 record. After missing most of the last two seasons due to a torn UCL in his left elbow, Jason has rebounded in 2017. That injury, which occurred in a game on July 21, 2015, eventually led to Tommy John surgery for the 13-year veteran, and limited him to just 12 games during that two-year span.
Originally drafted 1,273rd overall by the Minnesota Twins in 2001, the Apple Valley, Calif., native decided to play at LSU before going pro. In his freshman year, Jason held a 3.43 ERA in 13 games, while also playing first base and designated hitter. In fact, in his first at-bat in college, Jason smacked a pinch-hit grand slam.
Jason decided to leave the bayou for Cypress College, a junior college back home in California, for the 2003 season. After posting an 11-3 record with a 3.10 ERA (along with hitting .374 with nine home runs ), Jason was named Southern California junior college player of the year. Jason went undrafted following the season due to velocity concerns and he was on the move again. Jason picked Long Beach State for his junior season, where he re-invented his pitching style to improve his velocity. Jason went 7-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 18 games that season, and continued to strike fear in opposing pitchers at the plate – hitting .354 with 14 doubles and five home runs as the team's designated hitter.
Jason finally made the big-league jump in 2004, getting drafted by the Marlins in the second round-. Just a year later, on July 14, 2005, Jason made his major-league debut. In the 2006 offseason, the Marlins traded Jason to the Mets, where he pitched for a year. Jason was traded again in 2008, this time to the Mariners, where he spent four seasons from 2009-2012. Jason found his way back to California when the Mariners traded him to the Angels before the 2013 season. Finally choosing a team on his own terms, when he became a free agent after the 2013 season, Jason signed a four-year deal with the Royals.
Check out more photos of Jason here.