(from Today’s Knuckleball)
The Chicago Cubs’ Dan Vogelbach and the Baltimore Orioles’ Christian Walker have a few similarities between them. They are (or at least were) both first baseman. They both have some nice pop in their bats. Unfortunately for both, neither of their big league ball clubs seem to have any room for them.
Vogelbach is a 23-year-old left-handed hitting first baseman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Cubs fan favorite Kyle Schwarber. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft with lofty expectations of becoming the next Cubs’ power bat.
While he hasn’t developed into the enticing masher that he may have seemed to be, he has developed into a sound hitter at the plate. Last season was more of the same from Vogelbach. Despite missing close to fifty games due to injury, his advanced plate discipline was on full display. His first taste of Double-A ball with the Tennessee Smokies saw Vogelbach strikeout 61 times (19.5-percent) and walk 57 times (18.2-percent) , a remarkable split in just 313 plate appearances. He did rake seven home runs, but he has shown that he is capable of approaching 20 home runs over a full season in the past.
He has a big, exciting swing that when he gets into his pitch, it goes a long way. You can see he stands pretty straight at the plate, twirling his bat over his shoulder, letting his frame and natural, raw strength seemingly do most of the work. He drops his hands a tad as the pitch comes through the plate, but he seems to make good, consistent contact, so it works for him.
The problem with Vogelbach is two-fold. First and foremost, he is far from a defensive wizard in the field. While he doesn’t look foolish and can handle what is thrown his way, he doesn’t have much range or agility. A move across the diamond isn’t in the cards and he doesn’t project to be much of an outfielder with less than average speed.
Secondly, without the athleticism to convert to another position, he seemingly has nowhere to go in Chicago. Anthony Rizzo at just 26-years of age, has become one of baseball’s most exciting home run hitters and is signed through the 2019 season before team options come into play. Even if Vogelbach were able to convert to the outfield, the Cubs already have a logjam there at the big league level as it is.
Vogelbach is off to another hot start this season in his Triple-A debut, slashing .412/.487/.588 through his first ten games, but unless there is an injury or major trade, he seemingly has the misfortune of being on one of the deepest teams in Major League Baseball.
The same can be said for Walker. Walker is two years older than Vogelbach and is currently in his third stint in Triple-A. Unlike Vogelbach, Walker has gotten a brief cup of tea in the Majors seeing limited time in both 2014 and 2015
For more on Christian Walker, video analysis and their futures, click the link below and head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full article.