MINNEAPOLIS – Had this been just about any other season in the last 15, we would have seen a good amount of September call-up Daniel Vogelbach in the Mariners lineup in September. With the team fighting for a spot in the postseason, however, the priority is not getting a young player’s feet wet in the majors.
For Vogelbach, it is watch, learn and by all means take advantage of what the big league staff can teach him. To that end, there has been a lot of early work put in with Vogelbach at first base as fielding is an area he must improve if he wants a shot at fitting into the Mariners’ everyday plans in 2017. Bench coach Tim Bogar has been attacking the fundamentals with him.
“Any time you have an infielder, it starts with your feet, and from the bottom up it starts with a good foundation and it is one of those things where I think he’s never really had to focus on in his career is the foundation of fielding a ground ball,” Bogar pointed out. “We are working on getting in his legs and that transitions not only into catching groundballs but also his throwing. It helps him with his feeds to second base, his footwork. We are trying to get him to be more comfortable in his feet, his legs, relax his upper body a little bit so his glove work can come to him a little easier.”
It is not uncommon to see a hitting prospect make it six years through the minors and still lack in fundamentals at his position. Vogelbach was clearly a bat-first prospect, but the Mariners are looking for complete players and he is going to have to play some catch-up in the fielding department. The good news is Bogar believes he has a lot to work with.
“He’s a good athlete, he really is. For a bigger guy he can move, he can do some things. He’s going to have to play defense. We are making it a priority,” he said.
For his part, Vogelbach welcomes the work.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure when spring training comes around I am in the best position I can be in to be the best first baseman I can,” he said. “Bogar’s been great. He’s really broken it down to really basic for me and I think that is what has worked, just really going back to the basics. I really enjoy working with him.”
Vogelbach, who has taken daily early work with Bogar, will have help in the offseason at home as well. He lives next to his high school baseball field in Fort Myers, Fla., and his brother, a former college quarterback, owns a gym where he trains athletes.
“It’s good to have family members who push you,” he said. “I have access to all the things I need. It’s just going to come down to me doing what I need to do.”
Bogar will make sure Vogelbach leaves Seattle with a good foundation at first base to work on. While the Mariners may check in on him in the offseason, it’s up to him to make the most of the opportunity that appears to be in front of him.