Vogelbach eyeing Mariners' 2017 first-base job

Prospect working with infield coach Bogar, aims to be 'ready to compete'

October 11th, 2016

SEATTLE -- One of the looming questions facing the Mariners as they plot their offseason plans is this: Who will man first base in 2017 with both and heading into free agency?

No. 7 prospect knows the situation. And he'd like to be that answer.

"In life, all you can ask for is a chance," the 23-year-old Vogelbach said before heading home to Fort Myers, Fla., for the winter.

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"Then it's up to you to do what you will with that chance. I'm going to take full advantage of it, bust my butt in the offseason and when I come to Spring Training, I'm going to know I've done everything I can to put myself in the best situation to be where I want to be."

General manager Jerry Dipoto acquired the 6-foot, 250-pounder from the Cubs in a trade for lefty on July 20, because he believes Vogelbach could be a long-term solution to the team's first-base needs.

Vogelbach's combination of power potential and plate discipline intrigues Dipoto. The youngster remains a project at first base, but he worked out daily in pregame drills with infield coach Tim Bogar to improve his agility and footwork after being called up in September.

Vogelbach went just 1-for-12 in his brief playing time over the season's final month as manager Scott Servais stuck with his veterans, given the team's push for a playoff berth into the final weekend of the season. But it appears Vogelbach will head to Spring Training in February with a golden opportunity to be a key contributor in 2017, though almost certainly Dipoto will try to re-sign Lee or bring in another right-handed-hitting veteran to compliment him as a platoon option.

Vogelbach's brother owns a gym and is an athletic trainer in Fort Myers, and he'll work with him on the drills that he and Bogar refined, along with his normal offseason conditioning and hitting programs.

"I want to continue to work to be the best first baseman that I can be," Vogelbach said. "And now that I've set the foundation with Bogey and got the right footwork and everything, it's just going forward and continuing to better it.

"I'll come back in shape and ready to compete. It was good to be here and just learn, to watch guys like Robbie [Cano] and [Kyle] Seager and [Nelson] Cruz go about their business. I'm just hoping I can be part of it next year."

Vogelbach posted a .292/.417/.505 line with 23 home runs and 96 RBIs in 133 Pacific Coast League games with Triple-A Tacoma and Iowa this year, and the Mariners feel his bat will play at the big league level, though he'll obviously have to prove that going forward.

A 2011 second-round Draft choice of the Cubs, Vogelbach didn't get enough playing time in his September stint to get much of a feel for the difference in Major League pitching, but he soaked up as much as he could.

"I had 12 at-bats, so it's kind of hard to see anything," Vogelbach said. "But obviously they're big leaguers for a reason. Life and baseball are a game of adjustments. You just have to continue to make adjustments. Once I do, I know they'll make adjustments, and it'll just be back and forth.

"But it was good to be here and watch a guy like Seager. Obviously, he's a successful hitter for a reason. He knows when to take his hits and take his chances. I think that's a key. I'll just continue to learn and be ready to go."

Vogelbach's previous team, the Cubs, is alive in the National League playoffs and remains a prime World Series contender. But his path at first base there was blocked by 27-year-old , an NL All-Star the past three seasons, and he said it was a thrill to be personally involved in the Mariners' postseason push over the final month.

"It was something special to be part of," Vogelbach said. "Obviously, it wasn't the outcome we wanted, but I'm happy to be in this organization and happy to be here. I think this is just the beginning."