Jason Matthew Vargas (born February 2, 1983 in Apple Valley, California) is a Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. He has played parts of two seasons in the major leagues with the Florida Marlins, part of one season in the major leagues with the New York Mets and the last two seasons with the Seattle Mariners.
Vargas was drafted by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins with the 1,273rd pick in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft. Jason declined and decided to go to Louisiana State University. As a freshman at LSU, Vargas went 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 13 games. However, Vargas decided to transfer out of LSU after the 2001 season to Cypress College for the 2003 season, picking a junior college so he would still be eligible for the draft. He was the Southern California junior college player of the year for his work on the mound and at the plate. However, as the season wore on, his arm slot dropped; and his velocity fell into the mid-80s. That, combined with Vargas' signing bonus demands, depressed his draft stock, so he went undrafted.
Vargas headed to Long Beach State for his senior year. He liked the school's history of producing major league talent and liked the school's hard-nosed mentality even more, especially after getting a recommendation from J.J. Newkirk, who played for Vargas's father, Joe, at Victor Valley High School. Vargas arrived at LBSU with a new work ethic determined to improve upon his year at Cypress College. Vargas also proved a fast learner. At Long Beach, he learned to keep his top half aligned with his lower half over the rubber and not drift toward the plate as he twisted through his delivery. The tweak allowed Vargas to repeat his mechanics and keep his arm higher, which in turn increased the velocity on his fastball and improved the break on his curveball. The new work ethic paid off, and in 2004 Vargas went 7-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 18 games on the mound, while hitting .354 with 14 doubles and five home runs as the team's designated hitter.