The Chicago Cubs recently moved first baseman Bryan LaHair to the outfield to make room for top prospect Anthony Rizzo. In a couple of years, Rizzo may follow suit as Dan Vogelbach, another top prospect who also plays first base, is putting up big numbers as a 19-year-old in the Arizona League.
Over his last three games, Vogelbach has gone 9-for-14 with six runs, a double, triple, two home runs and six RBI. Through his first nine games, he is now hitting .462 (18-for-39) with seven doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.337 OPS. He has also shown a very good approach at the plate by drawing three walks to four strikeouts.
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At 6’-1″ and 250 pounds, the left-handed hitting Vogelbach has massive power potential. He won the 2010 Perfect Game Power Showcase by hitting a record 30 total home runs, including a 508-ft bomb, another record. As a senior at Bishop Verot HS in Florida, he hit .467 with 19 home runs and 54 RBI over 34 games. He drew 27 walks to just eight strikeouts, showing a rare advanced understanding of the strike zone for such a young power hitter. The Cubs selected him in the third round of the 2011 draft, 68th overall.
Vogelbach got his feet wet at the Arizona League last season, hitting .292 (7-for-24) over six games. He also added three doubles, a home run and six RBI. In a small sample size this season, he has shown the ability to come up with key hits in key situations. With the bases empty, he is 6-for-18 (.333). With runners on base, he is 12-for-20 (.600). And with runners in scoring position, he is 7-for-13 (.539) with three doubles, a triple and eight RBI.
Again, small sample size but a great sign as a future run producer at the next level. Aside from his offensive potential, he also can defend his position well. Despite his size, he is very agile and has quick feet and soft hands. He has great instincts on the field and a very high understanding of the game overall.
Cubs fans were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Rizzo all season long. He represents the first wave of talent that Theo Epstein is hoping to develop and bring through the system, a system that has been lacking high-level prospects for years. Hopefully, outfield prospect Brett Jackson will be up soon and continue the current wave. Vogelbach represents the next wave. Guys like Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Dillon Maples, Jeimer Candelario and a host of others, including this year’s first round pick Albert Almora, once he signs.
At the top, it doesn’t look good right now. But the Cubs are rebuilding from the bottom up, and the talent is starting to rise quickly.