Vogelbach Smashes Into Cubs' Plans





CHICAGO — Confidence should not be a problem for Dan Vogelbach as he heads toward his first full pro season.

Vogelbach got his pro career off to an impressive start in two short-season stops a year ago, reinforcing comparisons to Prince Fielder and Billy Butler. A second-round pick out of high school in Florida in the 2011 draft, he came with a high profile and a $1.6 million bonus. He showed provocative power, most notably with a 508-foot home run in a home run derby in the summer before his senior season, and impressed the Cubs by getting in better shape.

Rather than sending him and 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez to a full-season league last year, the Cubs kept them in Arizona for extended spring training. The grind got to the 6-foot, 250-pound Vogelbach at times, but seemed to pay dividends when the Rookie-level Arizona League season began in June.

He quickly hit his way to short-season Boise and finished the season with dazzling numbers: .322/.410/.641 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs in 61 games. He had 13 more strikeouts than walks.

"I started off slow in extended and kind of came out of there with a chip on my shoulder, to prove I belonged," Vogelbach said. "I think that I came a long way. I was really frustrated in extended, not myself, and I knew it. Instead of fixing it, I just got more and more frustrated. And then once the season started, I went back to the old me."

Vogelbach offers the Cubs the most pure power potential they've had since trading for a young Sammy Sosa. He hopes to join first baseman Anthony Rizzo in addressing the organization's inability to produce lefthanded run producers since the 1980s, when Rafael Palmeiro briefly overlapped with Mark Grace.

Vogelbach will likely be challenged with hitting in cold weather for the first time this spring, as he figures to open the season alongside top outfield prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler with low Class A Kane County.

CUBBYHOLE


• The Cubs signed 23-year-old Colombian righthander Dayan Diaz as a minor league free agent with an invitation to spring training. He compiled a 1.91 ERA and 21 saves in A-ball with the Astros the last two years, striking out 134 in 108 innings.

•  The World Baseball Classic doesn't figure to have a big impact on the Cubs. Righthander Ryan Searle will pitch for Australia, and righthanders Yao-Lin Wang and Hung-Wen Chen are on Taiwan's provisional roster.