On Sunday the Seattle Mariners promoted first baseman/DH Daniel Vogelbach from Triple-A Tacoma to the major league roster, inserting him in the starting line-up against the Oakland Athletics. Here’s a quick take.
Vogelbach was originally in the Chicago Cubs system, drafted in the second round in 2011 from high school in Ft. Myers, Florida. He rose up the ladder steadily and was usually successful, but was blocked in Chicago by Anthony Rizzo. He was traded to the Mariners last summer in the Mike Montgomery deal and received a brief look in the majors, going 1-for-12 over eight games.
Vogelbach ranked fourth on the 2017 Seattle Mariners Top 20 prospects list pre-season with the following comment:
4) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Grade B-/B: Age 24, acquired from Cubs in July trade; hit .292/.417/.505 with 23 homers, 97 walks, 101 strikeouts in 459 at-bats in Triple-A, went 1-for-12 in the majors; despite 6-0, 250 build he is not a brute-force slugger; he has legitimate pure hitting skills with advanced strike zone judgment and a clean swing to go with his 60-grade power; limited to first base; he doesn’t make many errors but lacks range; should hit enough to be a long-term DH if he loses too much glove as he gets older. ETA 2017.
None of that has changed. Vogelbach didn’t have a great spring, hitting just .228/.313/.333 in in 57 at-bats, but he was off to a good start at Triple-A Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League, batting .309/.409/.473 through 16 games and 55 at-bats. He hit well in Triple-A last year and has nothing left to prove at that level.
Vogelbach is most notable for his strike zone judgment, strength, and size. As a defender he isn’t a butcher in terms of errors, but his below-average arm and lack of range, while understandable given his size, makes him a mediocre defender and a DH long-term.
Although I am confident that Vogelbach would be a productive MLB hitter, the lack of athleticism and questionable defense gives him no margin for error. He can’t afford long slumps and must take quick advantage of any opportunity he is given to lock in a job.