June 08, 2011
After years of battling a beefy, power-hitting first baseman from Milwaukee, the Chicago Cubs may finally be agreeing with that old adage:
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
It's a natural thing to say after the Cubs drafted high school slugger Dan Vogelbach in Tuesday's second round with the 68th overall pick. The Ft. Myers native stands only 5-foot-11 and weighs 240 pounds — hey, that's down from a reported 280 just a few months ago — but he can also smack the heck out of a baseball. With his short but big presence and powerful left-handed swing, Vogelbach has been called "the white Prince Fielder(notes)" as a homage to the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman.
Vogelbach may not have a famous lineage like Fielder — well, unless his father is secretly Greg Luzinski — but he does sport a nice high school resume. He just helped lead Bishop Verot to a state championship, hitting .457 with 19 homers and 54 RBIs along the way. Last winter, he hit a record 508-foot home run (watch it below) and won the prestigious Power Showcase at Phoenix's Chase Field. He and teammate/best friend Hudson Boyd (a big power pitcher drafted by the Minnesota Twins with the 55th pick) are currently committed to play at the University of Florida, though neither has ruled out signing with their teams.
If Vogelbach does opt to sign with the Cubs, at least he'd have the luxury of Fielder blazing a path and already proving that players with a big body type can play too. That was something he didn't necessarily have in Florida's high school ranks.
"When you see Daniel coming off the bus, a lot of teams may laugh," Bishop Verot coach Tom LoSauro told the Ft. Myers News-Press. "But after they've seen him play his game and single-handedly beat them up, they'll bow to him when he gets back on the bus."
Then again, with some blogs already referencing Chicago's deep-dish pizza and the McDonald's that stands across the street from Wrigley Field, there may still be a lot of doubters for Vogelbach to convince:
"I don't think (my weight) is an issue," Vogelbach told the News-Press. "Losing weight has helped me get to balls I couldn't get to before and get to pitches I couldn't get to before."
Presumably it will also help him run even faster than this:
While we're still a long way from ever seeing Vogelbach man first base at Wrigley Field — he still has to sign, work his way through the minor leagues, etc. — it does raise a question about the Cubs for the here and now.