Daniel Vogelbach is living in the moment, and it’s quite a magical moment at that. Vogelbach is in the process of putting the wraps on his senior baseball season at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., and that conclusion is coming with a flourish.
Bishop Verot, No. 23 in Perfect Game’s national high school rankings, stood 25-4 after winning its regional tournament semifinal on May 6, and is set to host Tampa Catholic in a FHSAA Class 3A regional final on Friday, May 13. The winner advances to the 3A state tournament.
Vogelbach, a slugging first baseman who was a 2011 Rawlings Preseason First Team All-American, has been instrumental in the Vikings success, and he’s loved every minute of the memorable ride he’s been provided in his final high school season.
“It’s been something that is unforgettable,” Vogelbach said in a telephone interview with Perfect Game early this week. “The biggest thing for me is that I’m playing with a bunch of guys who I consider my brothers. We’re really close and I think we all have the same goal. We don’t really play for anything but a state championship.”
A preeminent hitter, Vogelbach was batting .474 (37-for-78) with 16 home runs, 48 RBIs and 36 runs scored heading into the regional final. He is ranked No. 38 in PG’s class of 2011 national rankings (No. 4 in Florida) and has signed a letter-of-intent with the University of Florida in Gainesville.
He is also projected as a compensation round or early second round pick in next month’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Yet the only thing Vogelbach is thinking about right now is finishing his high school career on the highest of notes.
“My mom has always told me that you can’t wish away your time,” he said. “I really haven’t thought about the future, I haven’t thought about going to Gainesville. I only get one more shot at this (and) I’ve never won a state championship. There are guys out there who are trying to win their fourth this year and I haven’t won one.
“I took it as a challenge this year and all I’ve really focused on is what happens on the field and leading my team to a state championship.”
Right-hander Hudson Boyd, another top prospect ranked No. 22 nationally and No. 5 in Florida by Perfect Game, is a teammate of Vogelbach’s at Bishop Verot. Boyd struck out 12 batters and improved to 10-0 in the Vikings’ regional semifinal victory while Vogelbach was 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored.
“I’ve been playing with the kid since I was 12 years old and he still continues to impress me,” Boyd told David Dorsey at news-press.com after the game.
Vogelbach has risen through the ranks and caught the eyes of hundreds of college coaches and professional scouts by attending 19 Perfect Game events in the last three years – six in 2008, five in ’09 and eight in ’10-’11.
He was at the 2010 PG National Showcase in St. Petersburg, Fla., the ’10 PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., and most recently at the PG World Showcase in his hometown of Fort Myers in January.
Living in Fort Myers has made it easy for Vogelbach to attend many PG events that are literally in his backyard.
“A lot of people have to travel to get the exposure, and I only have to drive 15 minutes to go to an event where all the colleges and MLB teams are going to be (represented),” he said. “I think Perfect Game is awesome with how many people they bring to the field and the way it’s set up. I really think it’s benefitted me.”
Vogelbach was coached by his father, Dan, when he was a youngster and has been coached by highly respected Tom LoSauro at Bishop Verot. He played for travel ball powerhouse FTB Mizuno and Coach Jered Goodwin throughout 2010, including at the PG WWBA World Championship where his teammates included top prospects Henry Owens, Tyler Marlette, Francisco Lindor, Dante Bichette and Boyd.
Vogelbach wears the pure joy and passion with which he plays the game on his face and in his actions. It was a personality trait Goodwin picked up on immediately.
“He’s one of the best clubhouse guys you will ever see,” Goodwin told Perfect Game while in Jupiter last October. “He’s very high energy and he keeps things very loose. When we need to get up and going and when we need someone to step in and cut the tension, he’s who we turn to.”
It’s just a matter of keeping the game in perspective.
“No matter if I’m at practice or no matter if I’m at a game, when I’m on the field I have so much fun,” Vogelbach said. “I thank God everyday because not very many people get the opportunity that I get. I’ve been blessed to have a family that has put me out there and given me the opportunity to play as much baseball as I have.”
Vogelbach fives credit for his success to his parents, Dan and Jennifer, and to his older brother Josh. His father taught him the game and Josh Vogelbach was a prolific, record-setting quarterback at NCAA Division III Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., who played professional football in an American indoor league and in a league in Italy.
“My brother has been a huge, huge help to me,” Vogelbach said. “Without him, I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to be where I’m at. It’s almost like he cares more about me than he does his own athletic career.
“It’s just amazing how my family pushes me and just keeps me rolling.”
When Vogelbach played for FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team at the WWBA World Championship last fall, the official program noted he was carrying 280 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. That over-sized physique often evoked comparisons to Milwaukee Brewers All-Star and Perfect Game alumna Prince Fielder, but was also viewed as an area of concern in some scouts’ evaluations.
He has since slimmed down to the more manageable 245-250 range and is feeling better than ever.
“The biggest thing is just keeping where I’m at and getting more in shape and continuing to prove that I can stay there,” Vogelbach said. “Coach Goodwin was my biggest guy with that one, and he always told me that there were a lot of people that didn’t really buy into the body situation. He told me how great I could be, and with him pushing me it gave me the motivation to lose the weight and continue to stay in shape.
“I feel like it’s made me a better hitter,” he continued. “I feel like it’s helped my hands stay more loose and my hips to get through quicker. The inside pitch was hard for me to hit before and now that I’ve lost the weight I think that I can get around on the inside pitch easier.”
The bat speed and eye-popping power has always been there, and was easy for scouts to recognize. Perfect Game director of scouting David Rawnsley made the following observation in his detailed pre-draft scouting report on Vogelbach:
“(He) is enormously strong and along with his loose, easy wrists generates outstanding bat speed from the left side of the plate. Another factor that makes Vogelbach unique in the scouting community is that it is almost easier to break down his mental approach to hitting rather his physical approach. … The young man eats, sleeps and breathes swinging a bat, and is an exceptionally confident hitter who doesn’t believe that any pitcher should ever get him out.”
Vogelbach is also a standout defensive first baseman, and doesn’t want to be viewed simply as someone who only hits a lot of home runs. His batting average (.474) and on-base percentage (.579) playing high school baseball this spring should dispel that notion.
“I’ve had to prove that I’m not just a power-hitter and show people I don’t strikeout very much,” he said. “There are going to be those people who just see me as a power-hitter or a kid that just hits the ball a long way, but in my mind I think I’m a complete hitter.”
Once Vogelbach’s high school career is in the books he can finally start looking ahead to becoming a Florida Gator – or grabbing a roster spot with some MLB rookie league team. He admits to thinking about the draft and firmly believes that one day he will be paid to play the game he so dearly loves.
“I think I’m going to be play professional baseball, whether it’ll be three years from now or whether it will be a month from now,” he said. “My goal since I’ve been little is to play professional baseball. I just don’t know when that time will come.”