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Reaching bigs no small goal for prospect Vogelbach

Reaching bigs no small goal for prospect Vogelbach

Reaching bigs no small goal for prospect Vogelbach
Daniel Vogelbach was headed home Friday after taking part in the Cubs' prospects mini-camp, which means Mesa, Ariz., will be a lot quieter.

It's not that Vogelbach is obnoxiously loud, but you do know when the garrulous first baseman is around. He's big on chatter, talking non-stop to his teammates, even if it's just an instructional league game at nearly empty Fitch Park.

The Cubs' second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Vogelbach likes to keep everybody loose. But he's very serious about becoming a Major League ballplayer.

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"For me, the only person who is going to stop me from getting to the big leagues is myself," Vogelbach said after a workout in Mesa last month. "That's the way I feel -- that's the way I feel about everything. The man in the mirror is the person who will stop you from doing what you're going to do. ... My mom always taught me to control what you can control, and that's what I try to do."

A Florida native who attended Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., Vogelbach has been around athletes his entire life. His father is a physical therapist who worked with professional athletes. Vogelbach's older brother, Josh, played quarterback for Guilford College, then professional football in Italy. Do a Google search on Josh, and there'a a Yahoo article from 2007 titled "Josh Vogelbach: The Best Quarterback You've Never Heard of, Much Less Seen Play."

Daniel Vogelbach, ranked No. 14 among the Cubs' top prospects, isn't looking for press clippings, just at-bats. This year, he was kept in extended spring camp then assigned to the Cubs' Rookie League team in June where he batted .324 with seven home runs, 12 doubles, two triples and 31 RBIs in 24 games. He joined Class A Boise in late July and batted .322 with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 37 games. He posted a .608 slugging percentage and 1.031 OPS at Boise.

Besides noticing Vogelbach because of the chatter, you also can't miss him because of his physique. He's giant-sized at 6-foot, 250 pounds, and has been slimming down to avoid injuries.

"This offseason will be big for me because I want to keep moving up and not be held back because of an injury that's stupid because it's something I can control," he said.

His size has prompted comparisons to other larger-than-life first basemen.

"There's one John Kruk, there's one Prince Fielder, and I don't listen to that stuff," Vogelbach said. "I want to be my own person, I want to be my own player. I want to be known as Daniel Vogelbach."

Watch him, and he's pretty quick for a big man.

"I played point guard my whole life in basketball," Vogelbach said. "I've grown up playing a lot of different sports. I'm a lot more athletic than people think."

That's one of the reasons the Cubs picked him so high in the Draft.

"He's pretty advanced with his approach and what he wants to do," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' player development and scouting director. "A lot of [his work at instructional league] is defensive-based. He's working on his body -- that's going to be an area for him consistently. He's a bigger guy, so he needs to work on agility, flexibility, defense.

"He knows what he wants to do at the plate, can drive the ball to the middle of field. We're focusing on defense and conditioning."

Vogelbach also doesn't want to be all about power.

"I want to be a guy who is a complete hitter and can hit the ball out of the park and hit .300," he said. "[Albert] Pujols is that guy. He's a guy who can hit for average, hit for power. I want to be known as a complete hitter like that."

He keeps an eye on Anthony Rizzo and noted how the current Cubs first baseman made adjustments from 2011 to this season.

"He's a guy who's patient, he doesn't change with the pitchers," Vogelbach said. "He waits for his own pitch and he's not scared to go hit with two strikes, which is big. I feel you have to be able to hit with two strikes throughout your career."

Vogelbach can hit. At the end of instructional league, the players staged a home run derby. Vogelbach faced powerful Jorge Soler, who won their round. But in one of the games, Soler tripled and Vogelbach drove him in with a single to right. That's what the Cubs want to see.

"You have to stay with your approach, stay in the middle of the field, and home runs will come," said Vogelbach, who hit 19 home runs his final high school season. "You can't think home runs, because once you start thinking home runs you'll get a hit every five at-bats, and it's a home run, and I don't want to be like that."

Nope, he wants to be Daniel Vogelbach.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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