Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto shares reasons he’s ‘really confident’ Daniel Vogelbach will keep producing
Mariners first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach was one of the big stories for the team during its impressive first month of play, but he endured a slump in early May that knocked over 60 points off his batting average.
The power-hitting lefty swinger appears back on track, however, crushing his third home run in as many games on Thursday night, giving him 12 homers already in just 38 games and pushing his OPS back over 1.000 (1.002 following his 1 for 4 effort against Minnesota).
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, the man who acquired Vogelbach all the way back in 2016 in a trade with the Cubs, told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show that Vogelbach’s history tells him the 26 year old will be just fine going forward in his first full year in the big leagues.
“For the most part Vogey’s always had very good strike zone judgement and pitch selection. If you can do those things and couple it with an efficient swing and big power, you’re going to hit,” Dipoto said, adding that Vogelbach’s strong eye at the plate has been present ever since high school. “… Once you get to Double-A and Triple-A and you maintain that type of performance with that type of process, those guys are usually the guys who turn into run producers in the big leagues. So everything that Vogey was telling you along his developmental journey was, ‘I’m going to hit.’
“To be fair to Vogey, he never got an extended audition or a long run at the big league level to see if he could do it, and here he is and he’s doing it, and I’m really confident that he can continue.”
If he can continue, it will only be good news for the Mariners. Vogelbach leads Seattle in OPS and on-base percentage, is tied for the lead in homers, is second in walks (26), third in RBIs (26) and fifth in total bases (72), all despite having seen only the eighth-most plate appearances (145) on the team.
“He’s been phenomenal. Here we are in the middle of May and he’s still carrying a 1.000 OPS, which is significant. And he definitely went through a slump,” Dipoto said. “… Vogey’s done a remarkable job of staying productive. The thing that Daniel is always willing to do that keeps his productivity (going) or the lineup moving is he takes his walks. He’s patient, he has power, he has a feel to hit and it’s been really good these last couple of days seeing him get back in that good groove with his swing.”
The next questions for Vogelbach to answer will come with more playing time. The Mariners have limited his at-bats against left-handed pitchers, and he has made just six appearances at first base compared to 28 games at designated hitter.
“On the left-handed pitchers, only time will tell,” Dipoto said. “At the minor league level, Vogey had traditional platoon splits. He didn’t hit the lefties as well as he hit the righties, and that’s not abnormal. What you can’t do in the big leagues because of the quality of the opponent is just constantly throw him out there and let him drown against the best lefties in the league. You find your spot to develop that confidence and and let it grow.”
Meanwhile at first base, Dipoto said Vogelbach has made big strides in the field even if he hasn’t been playing there much this year.
“We have guys that do a better job defensively than Vogey, but he has improved a ton over the course of his time here with the Mariners. You’ve seen it to this point, when we need to find a way to get as many of the bats in the lineup as we can, we do feel confident in sending Vogey out there to play defensively. It’s never going to be something that comes easy to him. He has to work hard at it, but he’s worked hard and he’s made himself playable at first base. (And) he runs the bases well for a big guy.
“He’s always going to have some limitations due to his size, but Vogey’s got about as complete of a game as he’s had in the four years he’s been with us and it’s a tribute to how hard he works at it.”
Spotlight on Dylan Moore
Another player on the Mariners’ roster getting his first real shot of playing in the majors is utility man Dylan Moore, who is currently preparing for a return from 10-day injured list stint for a wrist injury. Moore has appeared in 28 games this season since making his MLB debut at the beginning of the year with Seattle, and Dipoto provided insight into what the Mariners saw when they signed Moore as a free agent in the offseason.
“We felt like this was an under-valued guy who the industry was just missing on, and like a lot of the others we’ve talked about just needed the opportunity,” Dipoto said. “… He’s a very good defensive player, especially in the middle of the infield, he can play anywhere on the field, he’s got a really good idea of what to do in the batter’s box, he’s got more pop than you give him credit for as a scout, and you see it play itself out over the course of a season.”
Dipoto made sure to make mention of how Moore performed when the rest of the team was scuffling during two series in Cleveland and New York on the Mariners’ most recent road trip. Moore went 4 for 10 with a home run, two doubles, two RBIs, two walks, a stolen base and three runs scored in one stretch of five games played.
“I’m really happy for him, particularly on that stretch where we went through the east, while most of the rest of our lineup was really struggling Dylan Moore threw up a 1.000 OPS.”
You can listen to the full episode of The Jerry Dipoto Show, which also includes how the Mariners plan to bring Kyle Seager and Félix Hernández back into the fold upon their returns from the IL, in the player embedded in this post or in podcast form at this link.