The Foundation: Vogelbach ascending

The Foundation: Vogelbach ascending
August 8, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

There are so many unknowns surrounding Dan Vogelbach.

Will the National League adopt a designated hitter by the time he reaches the majors? Will he even reach the big leagues? Is his defense good enough to stick at first base? Will he stay in the Cubs system or be traded? Can he stay healthy?

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But those questions will have to go unanswered for now and the young Kane County Cougars slugger isn't ready to get ahead of himself.

"We're in this moment. You can't control what happens up there," Vogelbach said. "[The Cubs] are your big-league club. You want to know how they're doing.

"But it's not something you worry about, because quite frankly, you can't control what they're doing up there. Just like you can't control what somebody is doing one level ahead of you.

"All you can do is go out each and every day, go about your business and play hard. If you do that, everything is going to take care of itself in the long run."

While prospects like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler get all the publicity, Vogelbach has flown under the radar since the Cubs made him their second-round pick in 2011.

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The 20-year-old Ft. Myers, Fla., native starred for short-season Boise last year, hitting 10 homers in 37 games with a 1.031 OPS.

After a promotion to Low-A Kane County prior to the 2013 season, Vogelbach got off to a little bit of a slow start, but turned it on in July, winning the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month award.

In the month, he hit .330 with a .917 OPS, four doubles, four homers, 19 RBI and 15 runs. He also walked 17 times compared to only 12 strikeouts.

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On the season, the 6-foot, 250-pound slugger carries a .281/.359/.447 line with 16 homers, 21 doubles and 68 RBI in 109 games. He ranks third in the Midwest League in homers, is fourth in total bases and ninth in RBI while hitting third for the Cougars for much of the season.

"I'm just trying to slow it down and not do too much," Vogelbach said. "Get my pitches and not be afraid to go to two strikes.

"I have to credit the guys behind me. I'm getting pitches to hit because they hit the ball so well. I have to keep it going and do whatever I can to help my team win."

The Cougars have been doing a lot of winning lately -- nine of their last 14, to be exact -- after a rough start to the season's second half. Manager Mark Johnson and his coaching staff are working with one of the youngest rosters in the Midwest League, but the Cougars are clicking all at the same time.

"You're dealing with young guys, young guys that are very emotional and really involved in the outcome of things, instead of the task at hand," Johnson said. "So when we are playing better and we do win, they tend to listen and observe a little bit more."

[The Foundation: Cougars still learning 'The Cubs Way']

Vogelbach is one of those emotional guys, wearing his feelings on his sleeve. He can get as frustrated at times and show his age, but is a team leader and great teammate and keeps things loose in the clubhouse with his light-hearted nature.

"I'm an emotional guy," he said. "That's the way I play and that's the way I lead.

"I've played that way since T-Ball. That's just something that helps me play the way I do. The emotional part probably won't change at all."

When things weren't going well for the Cougars, they weren't getting blown out every night. Much like the big-league Cubs, they were losing by a run here or there and just failed to get the big hit at the right time or close out victories late in the game.

"The way I look at it is, it just shows how close you are, even to the big-league level," Vogelbach said. "When you lose a lot of close ballgames, you're right there. You're one pitch away or one swing away or one bounce away from winning all those games instead of losing those games.

"You just have to keep going. You can't change anything. You have to keep working hard and play the game the right way and you're going to get rewarded."