Opportunity is the prevailing force in rotisserie baseball, and now that he's out of Chicago, Dan Vogelbach has a chance to work his way into fantasy prominence. Vogelbach was used sparingly down the stretch in 2016 after being traded to Seattle, but he is projected to open 2017 on the favorable end of a first-base platoon alongside Danny Valencia, starting against right-handed pitching. As a 23-year-old, Vogelbach beat up on Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .923 OPS, 23 homers and 96 RBI while striking out just four more times (101) than he walked (97) in 563 plate appearances. Safeco Field still skews favorably for pitchers in terms of runs scored, but it was a top-six park for home runs in 2016, so even in a platoon role, Vogelbach could gain and maintain fantasy value outside of AL-only formats. He's a worthwhile endgame target for those in 15-team mixed leagues and he should be owned in all keeper leagues with a much clearer path to playing time than he had in Chicago.
Vogelbach was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com reports. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as Vogelbach and Danny Valencia were expected to split time at first base to open the season. The 24-year-old struggled this spring, however, slashing just .228/.313/.333 with 19 strikeouts in 57 at-bats. He also went just 1-for-12 with six strikeouts in his major league debut last season, so it appears the Mariners believe he could use some work before making the full-time jump.
Vogelbach went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a run in Sunday's 5-4 Cactus League loss to the A's. The first baseman brought home Guillermo Heredia with a two-bagger to deep center in the third, knotting the score at 2-2 at the time. It was both the second double and RBI of the spring for the 24-year-old, who's slashing .350/.381/.450 over 20 at-bats this spring. Vogelbach, who is projected to serve as the left-handed side of a platoon at first with veteran Danny Valencia in the coming season, looks significantly improved at the plate this spring after generating an .083/.154/.083 line over 13 plate appearances with the big league club in 2016.
Vogelbach went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles in Saturday's 13-3 Cactus League victory over the Padres. The 24-year-old is vying to platoon with lefty masher Danny Valencia at first base this season, and got his spring off to a strong start with Saturday's effort. Vogelbach packs plenty of power on his 6-foot, 250-pound frame, and worked all offseason to sharpen his defensive skills in anticipation of his expected role in 2017.
Vogelbach, who is likely to platoon with veteran Danny Valencia at first base, has impressed manager Scott Servais with the improved agility he's flashing as a result of offseason workouts, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "He spent a lot of time on it this offseason. I think he looks great. He's certainly moving a lot better defensively around the bag. He's a lot more flexible. His hands are working better. I like what I see so far." A 2011 draft pick of the Cubs, Vogelbach arrived in Seattle last July 20 and eventually logged his first 12 major league at-bats late in the season. A burly 6-foot, 250-pounder, Vogelbach worked diligently with his brother, a trainer, this offseason to improve his lateral mobility and first-step quickness. He also added yoga into his stretching routine in attempt to maximize the flexibility of his hips and hamstrings, all with the goal of insuring a roster spot by proving his defensive viability at first base. The 24-year-old's bat is a much more established commodity, as most recently evidenced by his .292/.417/.505 line with 25 doubles, two triples, 23 homers and 96 RBI over a combined 459 at-bats at Triple-A Iowa and Tacoma last season. If he can translate the improvement he's showing in workouts to spring training games, Vogelbach should secure himself a spot on the 25-man roster and serve as yet another source of power in a potent Mariners lineup.
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto reiterated Thursday that they will try not to ask too much of Vogelbach as he attempts to solidify himself as Seattle's main starting first baseman this season, ESPN 710 Seattle's Shannon Drayer reports. After years of being blocked from having a path to the big leagues in Chicago, Vogelbach will now have a legitimate opportunity to establish himself as the Mariners' everyday first baseman. However, most of his at-bats in 2017 will likely come against right-handers since he is expected to platoon with newly-acquired Danny Valencia. Production at the plate will be key for Vogelbach, whose playing time could start to diminish if he gets off to a slow start.