D-Cubs' Vogelbach goes opposite field twice

Chicago's No. 12 prospect solving FSL's pitcher-friendly environment

Dan Vogelbach has a .433 slugging percentage with Daytona this year. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | July 23, 2014 11:26 PM ET

Dan Vogelbach is well aware that in player development, the process is generally more important than the results. At times this season, the pitcher-friendly Florida State League has tested his faith in that axiom nonetheless.

"It can get in your head for sure when you're hitting balls well and they're not going anywhere," Vogelbach said. "Definitely, early on, it was something that bothered me."

As the season's worn on, the Cubs' No. 12 prospect has put that frustration behind him. He was rewarded Wednesday night with a pair of opposite-field home runs -- and came within inches of a third -- in Class A Advanced Daytona's 6-2 win over Palm Beach.

Both Vogelbach's homers came off fastballs by southpaw Kyle Helisek, giving the left-handed hitter his first homers off a lefty this season -- he entered hitting .188 against same-side pitching this season.

Six of Vogelbach's 11 dingers this season have gone out to left or left-center field. This after Vogelbach hit just one of his 19 roundtrippers in 2013 to left-center.

Vogelbach's made the shift while hitting in the most offensively prohibitive league in the Minors.

 "I'm just trying to stay to the middle of the field," he said. "I think I've slowed the game a little more since last year when it comes to that. As you go up, pitchers get better and they throw the ball where they want. They don't miss much. I'm slowing things down."

The two-homer game was Vogelbach's first since he achieved the feat on consecutive days in 2012 with short-season Boise. That barrage came amid a five-game homer streak in which Vogelbach crushed seven.

The 21-year-old's first long ball of the night came in the top of the second. Helisek left a fastball middle-away that Vogelbach jumped on, driving the ball over the left-center fence for his 10th homer of the season. That homer jump-started a four-run inning for Daytona.

Vogelbach followed with his 11th homer the next inning, again sitting back and driving a middle-away heater from Helisek out to left-center.

After a groundout to first and a lineout to second, Vogelbach nearly picked up a third homer in the top of the ninth. Facing right-hander Ronnie Shaban, Vogelbach turned on an inside fastball and crushed it down the right-field line. The ball cleared the Dean Stadium fences, but did so inches wide of the foul pole.

"I thought I got it," Vogelbach said. "But it hooked down the line a bit."

He eventually flew out to right, driving a ball to the warning track that was pulled in by Cardinals outfielder David Popkins.

Similar flyouts might've lured Vogelbach out of his patient approach earlier in the year. With a season's worth of lessons -- and a little confidence from two leisurely strolls around the bases Wednesday -- the Cubs prospect doesn't figure to be shaken much by the result.

"I think it goes back to you have to continue swinging and hitting the ball hard," he said. "Let everything else take care of itself. Just continue to have a good approach and stay to the middle of the field. The stats and everything will take care of itself."

Left-hander Rob Zastryzny picked up the win for Daytona, logging six scoreless innings. The 2012 second-rounder scattered three hits and three walks while striking out three. Zastryzny (2-6) slimmed his ERA to 5.00, including a 3.35 mark over his past 10 starts.

The 22-year-old Edmonton, Alberta native has produced scoreless results in three of his past five outings.

"He's really attacking hitters," Vogelbach said. "He's getting ahead early, just letting his defense work and letting his stuff work. Everybody knows he has three or four good, quality pitches. If he can continue to get ahead like he is, he will have a really successful career."

Jake Seiner is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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