Daniel Vogelbach Puts Himself Back On Map

Any map shows Daniel Vogelbach is no closer now to the big leagues than he was a year ago. Triple-A Tacoma, where he again found himself, is still 30 miles from Safeco Field.

Don’t be fooled by the linear distance.

The 25-year-old Vogelbach resurrected his prospect status this spring and broke camp with the big club. He caught a break when an injury sidelined first baseman Ryon Healy—a player the Mariners acquired last winter in part because they harbored doubts about Vogelbach.

Those doubts mushroomed a year ago when Vogelbach pouted at being sent to the minors. This year, though, he returned to Tacoma in late April with a rejuvenated mindset from the belief steady duty in the majors is closer than ever.

“Obviously, last year, getting sent down,” he said, “that’s not the feeling you want to feel. This year was a totally different feel.”

Coming to the Mariners in a July 2016 trade that sent lefthander Mike Montgomery to the Cubs initially seemed a ideal fit for Vogelbach, whose path to the majors had been blocked by Anthony Rizzo.

The Mariners, at that point, had no long-term answer at first base and also saw Vogelbach as a potential down-the-road replacement for DH Nelson Cruz.

It didn’t work out.

Vogelbach showed little in a series of brief big league tours and, even in the Mariners’ talent-thin system, he failed to crack the organization’s Top 10 Prospects for 2018.

Perception changed this spring when Vogelbach, a 2011 second-rounder out of high school in Florida, hit camp with an new power-enhancing swing that underscored his acknowledgement that he needed to change.

“It was time,” he admitted. “I definitely made some adjustments in the offseason that I really hadn’t been willing to make.”

Vogelbach has been raking at Tacoma with eight home runs in 20 games. Now he just awaits for another chance.

“Everybody loves Vogey’s personality,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s funny, he brings a lot of energy and keeps the dugout light and loose. But ultimately, what teammates (want) is, ‘Can this guy help us win?

“I think they saw signs of Vogey really being able to help us going forward.”

>> High Class A Modesto outfielder Kyle Lewis returned May 12 from his latest knee surgery. He played 49 games last season following a year-long recovery from his previous surgery.

>> Righthander Sam Carlson, the organization’s highest-rated pitching prospect, was battling elbow issues amid fears that he might require Tommy John surgery. Seattle made the Minnesota high school product a 2017 second-rounder.

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