Chicago Cubs #9 Prospect – Dan Vogelbach 1B
In our next installment of our series “Down on the Farm”, we’ll take a look at the Cubs #9 prospect Dan Vogelbach, whose raw power and approach at the plate could have himself on a big league roster in the next few years.
Vogelbach was drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a 1st baseman with the 68th overall pick in the 2011 draft, but was highly considered by American League teams as a designated hitter. Vogelbach was listed at 6’0″ 280 lbs on draft day and has since lost 30 pounds in order to improve his defense and become a guy the infield trusts opposite the hot corner.
After being drafted by the Cubs, Chicago waited until the deadline to sign Vogelbach for $1.6 million allowing him time to play in only 6 games for the Arizona League Cubs in 2011. He would return in 2012 to the Arizona League in much better shape and would showcase the power and discipline at the plate that Chicago drafted him for. He finished with a .324/.391/.686 line in 115 AZL plate appearances before moving up to short season Boise. At Boise, Vogelbach would continue to pound the ball finishing with a .322/.423/.608 line in 168 plate appearances completing his 2012 with 61 games, 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.
Entering his 2013 season, Dan Vogelbach was ranked as the Chicago Cubs #7 prospect and ranked the best power hitter in the Chicago Cubs system. He began 2013 as the starting first baseman for the single-A Kane Country Cougars where he played in 114 games before being promoted to Hi-A Daytona to finish off the season.
This was the first long look the system had at Vogelbach over an entire year and his .284/.364/.450 performance in 500 Kane County plate appearances was nothing to be ashamed of. His power numbers did drop however as he managed only 17 home runs and 38 extra base hits at Kane County, despite banging 17 homers and 20 extra base hits in a third of the plate appearances at Boise in 2012.
Accumulating only 50 official at-bats in Daytona last summer, it is safe to say Vogelbach will return to the Florida State League in 2014 as the starting first baseman. Vogelbach plans on coming back in better shape, just like last year and with the continued weight loss it will be interesting to see how Vogelbach’s power numbers relate.
If Vogelbach sees himself as an everyday first baseman he needs to turn his raw power into line drive extra base hits, especially off of left-handed pitchers where Vogelbach manged only 5 xbh all of last season compared to 33 off of righties. His eye at the plate can compensate for his somewhat loopy swing, but at the end of the day a designated hitter may be the role Vogelbach finds himself at in the majors.
With Chicago inking Anthony Rizzo to a 7-year deal, it is hard to see Dan Vogelbach cracking the opening day roster with the Cubs in the next couple of years. If anything Vogelbach will be used as left-handed power bat off of the bench or barring injury to Rizzo, a back-up first baseman.
For now, Vogelbach will continue to improve upon his defense and athleticism in the Chicago farm system where I ultimately think he will be used as a trade chip to an American League team that could use his bat as a designated hitter. Until then, scouts will continue to awe at the raw power Vogelbach possesses in hopes that he can adjust to upper-level pitching and begin to feel comfortable at first base.