As a teacher, I am always looking for better ways to evaluate my students. This allows me to get to know my students better and how I can improve as a teacher in helping them to reach their full potential. As a fantasy baseball manager, I go through the same process when assessing players, trying to figure out how to best evaluate each individual in hopes that my time put in will help lead to my (or your) team reaching their potential and delivering a fantasy championship.
I have created a simplistic new process for evaluating prospects. I am still tinkering with the process while trying to come up with the best methodology to indicate the value of prospects for future fantasy purposes. I have chosen 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Prospects are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade.
*Note – Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues. Example: A catcher or first baseman might rank higher in the speed department than an outfielder with the same stolen base potential, because a C or 1B that can deliver 10 to 15 stolen bases a year is more challenging to find than an OF capable of producing the same SB totals.
Without further ado, let’s find out if Dan Vogelbach makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – Dan Vogelbach is seen as a future clubhouse leader for the way he handles himself and helps teammates in the minors. He knows pitching, leading to tremendous plate discipline, which we will discuss later. At the age of 20, he is still learning, but has given us no reason to down-grade him so far. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – Vogelbach is said to have great plate discipline, which was demonstrated by his 73 walks and 89 strikeouts in 2013. The walk rate led to an impressive .375 OBP on the season. Vogelbach’s ability to recognize pitches and drive strikes to all fields will be the driving force that propels him to the major leagues. Rating: 10 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – Baseball Prospectus said Vogelbach had a potential plus hit-tool going into the 2013 season, and his stat line on the year enforced that idea. His swing is short and quick, and he is able to make good contact to all fields, via the line-drive and long-ball. Rating: 9 out of 10.
4) Power – This first baseman is said to produce great bat speed that can allow him to get around on the ball quickly while producing excellent power to all fields. Scouts believe he could develop 25-plus HR power in the big leagues. BP quote, “Vogelbach features raw-80, light-tower power.” Rating: 10 out of 10.
5) Speed –He isn’t a very good base-runner, and his size obviously doesn’t help. He has 7 stolen bases throughout his minor league career. Fantasy owners won’t be drafting Vogelbach in the future for his speed. As with most first basemen, any SB’s should be considered a bonus. Rating: 6 out of 10.
6) Body – To say Dan Vogelbach is a big boy would be an understatement. He is currently listed at 6’0” and 250 pounds. The weight has been one of the major concerns when it comes to this larger than life prospect. Vogelbach has worked hard in the past and made it his goal to return to spring training in better shape, something to watch for in 2014. Rating: 6 out of 10.
7) Durability – The large frame and negative reviews about size don’t help here. Scouts say his athleticism still needs to improve, but no significant injury history in a plus. If the National League decides to adopt the DH in the near future, no one would welcome the change more than Dan Vogelbach and the Chicago Cubs. Rating: 8 out of 10.
8) Ceiling –With grade 80-power, we might be looking at one of the better power hitters in the game 5 years from now. With the way power is trending down recently, Vogelbach could become a welcome source of production. A high batting average with 30 HR potential is welcome on my fantasy squad anytime. Rating: 9 out of 10.
9) Floor – The risk that comes with a large bodied 20 year-old prospect that profiles best as a DH is going to be high. Being considered a below average defender at 1B, Vogelbach will need to get in where he fits in on the defensive side of the ball, and use his bat as a way to stay in the lineup. Rating: 6 out of 10.
10) Future – Still a ways from making an impact in the big leagues, the Cubs are hoping Vogelbach will be ready for a jump to Double-A sometime in 2014. It will be interesting to see how management handles both Anthony Rizzo and Dan Vogelbach down the road. Regardless, Vogelbach looks like a future middle-of-the-order power hitter. Rating: 8 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 82% B
Future Outlook: Just another top prospect in the Cubs’ loaded farm system. Vogelbach will probably head back to the High-A Florida State League to begin the 2014 season. This large prospect will have to bide his time in the minors for a few more seasons as management will see what they have in Anthony Rizzo while they let Vogelbach develop his craft. At the age of 20, this first baseman could be ready for his shot in the big leagues by 2016. If the Cubs decide to go with Rizzo long-term, which seems likely as Rizzo is a favorite of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Vogelbach could become expendable. But no matter what jersey this prospect dons in the future, we could see a decent batting average to go with 25 to 30 homeruns annually out of Dan Vogelbach.