Daniel Vogelbach was always the Cubs prospect that was never meant to be. From the moment that Anthony Rizzo broke it out, Vogelbach was never going to be a Chicago Cub at the big league level. Last year, the inevitable finally occurred and Vogelbach was shipped out of Chicago and sent to Seattle in the deal that brought Mike Montgomery to the Cubs. Now, I will be writing about all the reasons why I love Mike Montgomery and how he is quite possibly the ace of this hypothetical Villar Village team on another day. Today, I am focused on part of Seattle’s return in that deal.
Even though Vogelbach was blocked by Anthony Rizzo in Chicago, there was and is still doubt as to whether Vogelbach could handle first base on a regular basis due to poor footwork, athleticism and glovework. In order to achieve success this year, Vogelbach will have to handle first base this year since Nelson Cruz will serve as Seattle’s designated hitter on most days.
Vogelbach also may have to contend with another player acquired by the Mariners and one of my favorite sleepers from last year, Danny Valencia. Now, Valencia would be on the short-side of a platoon with Vogelbach and Valencia has hit righties at a respectable rate over the last two years. There is a possibility that Valencia simply takes the job outright (and therein, becomes a very attractive sleeper in his own right). However, Valencia’s experience at third and outfield give him multiple paths to playing time. With the recent trade of Seth Smith, Valencia may even be a starting corner outfielder in Seattle.
The playing time concerns aside, there is obvious reason to have interest in Vogelbach from a fantasy perspective. Last year, at AAA, in 563 PA, Vogelbach hit 23 home runs while sporting a near 1:1 K/BB rate and triple-slashing .292/.417/.505. Those are extremely impressive numbers for a player in his age 23 season to amass at AAA. The plate discipline, in particular, is very encouraging because it shows that Vogelbach has an advanced approach that will play well at the next level.
The scouting reports sound extremely familiar to another oversized, athletically limited 1B/DH type – Billy Butler. Before you turn and run in the other direction, let’s remember that in Butler’s prime he was high average, slight above league average power bat. Vogelbach has a similar power profile with his Raw Power potential exceeding his Game Power. In part, this is because Vogelbach is more willing to take what the pitcher gives to him and spray the ball to all fields or work the count and settle for a walk. In my opinion, this is the correct approach to have and could prove especially rewarding considering the power surge around the majors. Seeing Vogelbach’s power jump from good to great at this level is not out of the question considering what occurred around the league in 2016.
Although the left-handed Billy Butler is a fun comparison, Vogelbach is not an identical player to Butler. Butler was never as patient at the plate as Vogelbach has been consistently in the minors, nor did Butler strikeout at the rate that Vogelbach did in the minors. That is not to indicate that Vogelbach is some strikeout king – his strikeout rate has hovered between 16-19% over the last three minor league seasons.
If Vogelbach gets the playing time in a good lineup and his elite K/BB rate skills translate, Vogelbach will be a major find late in deeper drafts (ADP: 420.8) or off waiver wires early in the season. I would like to welcome Dan Vogelbach to the Villar Village!
Projection for Vogelbach: 145 GP, 64 Rs, 24 HRs, 76 RBI, .276/.389/.440
Previous Inhabitants of the Villar Village:
1B/2B/SS/OF. Nick Franklin – TB
OF. Alex Dickerson -SD
OF. Charlie Tilson – CWS
SP. Tyler Skaggs – LAA