Florida Duo Works For Individual, Team Success
Teammates Hudson Boyd and Dan Vogelbach may not have the projectable bodies that scouts look for in high school players, but they are putting in the extra effort to prove that they should be considered among the best talents in the country.
Boyd, a righthander, and Vogelbach, a first baseman, are both committed to Florida and have their sights set on winning a Florida state championship for Fort Myers' Bishop Verot Catholic High.
They also are working to prove doubters wrong. Competing at the level draft prospects do is a tough task, but this duo would probably argue that others have it easy.
Though he's an accomplished hitter, Vogelbach is limited to first base, a position where scouts want to see an exceptional bat in a player who is limited defensively at such a young age.
While Boyd throws in the low 90s, his frame already is maxed out at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. When scouts dream about projectable, hard-throwing high school righthanders, they typically envision a 6-foot-4, 180-pound body.
The Bishop Verot duo may not pass the eye test, but scouts generally seemed to like them as the draft creeps closer.
Vogelbach started turning heads at USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars last summer. Not only did he tip the scales well north of 250 pounds, but he was hitting everything in sight and showing big power. At 6-foot-1, he didn't look like a ballplayer, but he played like one. Vogelbach hit well throughout the tournament, showed athleticism by turning in average run times and was a solid defender.
He made the trials roster for Team USA, just one step away from representing his country in international tournaments, though he did not make the cut for the final 20-man roster. Vogelbach took it hard, but the event formed the player scouts are seeing today.
"I really thought I could get away my whole life with being a good hitter," Vogelbach said. "It hit me after Tournament of Stars and trials. It was motivation for me to really start pushing myself and become a player, not just a hitter."
Vogelbach set a goal that he would lose weight and be in better shape by the time he went to play in October's World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla. He doubled his workouts, incorporating more running and cardio, and watched his diet. By the time he headed to Jupiter, Vogelbach had lost 45 pounds, weighing in at 240. He still may not look the part, but he is a far cry from where he was in June.
"I worked hard before, but not enough," Vogelbach said. "I realized I only had one chance at this, so the social life can wait. You have to realize this what you want to do for the rest of your life. You have to work hard. Nothing is going to be given to you."
Vogelbach is playing with a chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove the naysayers wrong. Scouts noticed he was in better shape in the fall, and it has carried over into the spring.
"Vogelbach actually looked better physically, and he has just unbelievable bat speed and power," one scout said. "He works at it, he's worked a lot in the last year at it."
New Face, New Ace
Boyd is in the same boat, trying to show scouts that he can perform at the next level despite not having an ideal frame.
During the offseason he worked out every day. Four times a week he ran for distance, while doing sprint work the other three. In the weight room, he lifted with his legs to make his lower body strong, but he would stay away from too much upper body work. He did yoga to improve his flexibility, and he also found it to be helpful mentally.
"You're sitting silently for an hour or so, about the same amount of time I would be on the mound for a game," Boyd said. "It allows you to collect your thoughts. I would always go over innings in my head, pitch a game in my mind."
Coming from a family of football players, Boyd knows he's a big guy, but he doesn't worry over comments about his frame. He focuses on what he can control, and right now that involves staying in shape and winning. This is Boyd's first season with Bishop Verot—he previously played at South Fort Myers High—and he is keeping his goals simple.
"It sounds silly, but I want to win a district title," Boyd said. "Before my team was always one and done. I also want to win the Sarasota Classic, because that shows how you stand up against national teams."
Having Boyd on the mound excites head coach Tom LoSauro, who is used to having big hitters like Vogelbach and Bobby Borchering, the Diamondbacks' first-round pick in 2009. He has known Boyd for several years and says he will be great addition to his pitching staff.
"With Hudson coming in, he gave us a high-profile pitcher," LoSauro said. "When you roll him out, you know the other team has their work cut out to beat him."
While Boyd and Vogelbach work to succeed individually, they also want to win Bishop Verot's first state championship since 1994. Their efforts are rubbing off on their teammates and they are growing as leaders. LoSauro just doesn't want to get too caught up in the excitement.
"I'm trying to enjoy life with them," he said. "I don't want to know what it'll be like without them. The joy of coaching is watching their development. The neat thing is to see how they've grown up as people. They're much more mature."