FORT MYERS, Fla. – Baseball first brought 2013 top prospect Matthew Vogel from his home in Medford, N.Y., to the Florida sunshine for Perfect Game tournaments last summer and fall.
Vogel was back in southwest Florida Tuesday for his first sampling of a Perfect Game showcase event, and it’s a pretty big stage for a 15-year-old from Long Island.
The 2011 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase – an event for top prospects who will be either juniors or sophomores in high school in the fall – got under way at City of Palms Park Tuesday morning with running and throwing workouts.
Three games were scheduled to be played Tuesday afternoon with three more slated for Wednesday.
Vogel is ranked the No. 10 top national prospect (No. 1 in New York) in the class of 2013 by Perfect Game, one of several national top-10 prospects here. He is a highly regarded shortstop and right-handed pitcher who is attending his first showcase, and he brought his father, Peter, with him.
Vogel said he didn’t come into the event with any set-in-stone expectations.
“I just want to do my best and do whatever I can do,” he said right before he went through his infield throw workout session. “I want to try to get to that college level and maybe someday go the MLB. I just want to come here and do my best and see what happens.”
Both Vogels seemed to be taking that wait-and-see approach.
“This is exciting,” Peter said. “This is something new and different. It’s the first time for us and we’re learning a lot. (Matthew) is looking forward to it and hopefully he shows real well.
“He just has to let it play out,” Peter continued. “Be yourself and be your own person. You can’t do more than you can do. Don’t overdo it, don’t over-try. Just be yourself. When try too hard to do things, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You have to let it come naturally. No game plan; just come in and play your best.”
Vogel did record a solid 87 mph velocity during his infield throw workout.
While this is the first Perfect Game showcase event Vogel has attended, but he did get noticed previously while playing at the PG Underclass World Championship at Terry Park here in Fort Myers, and at the PG World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., last year.
Vogel will be a junior in the fall at Patchogue Medford High School in Medford, N.Y, which is on Long Island. It’s a good baseball school, according to Vogel, and he said he noticed a lot of improvement in his game from his freshman to his sophomore year.
“It was a learning experience for me last year because I was only a freshman and I was playing against these ‘men’, pretty much,” he said with a laugh. “But I realized what I had to do to get better, so that’s what I did and I got better.”
Vogel plans on spending this summer playing at Perfect Game tournaments in Florida and Georgia for the South Florida Bandits and legendary coach Mark Holtzman. He is also going to try out for the USA Junior National team.
With two years of high school still ahead of him, Vogel has plenty of time to contemplate the future. He is yet to make a college commitment, but has received interest from North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson and Florida State. He isn’t eligible for the MLB First-Year Player Draft until 2013.
“If I can get drafted in the first round – which, obviously, would be pretty good – that’s fine with me, but if I gotta go to college, I gotta go to college,” Vogel said. “I want to get a college education. That’s my big goal, is to get a college education.”
Vogel indentifies himself as a shortstop but is also in possession of a strong right arm that has produced 90 mph fastballs.
“If I can go to college and be a two-way player, that’s fine with me,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter to me.”
Peter Vogel knows there’s no rush to make any decisions.
“At some point he’s going to have to settle down and figure out what he wants to do and where he wants to go. He’s young, so he has time,” Peter said.
While the temperature pushed back into the mid-90s Tuesday afternoon, both Vogels agreed that experiencing the PG Junior National was worth some sweat-stained shirts.
“This is going to be very beneficial,” Matthew said. “Seeing all these kids from all around the country and all of them are very talented – that’s why they’re here. It’s good watching all the kids from other states playing. It’s a great experience.”
His father echoed that thought.
“This is definitely beneficial,” Peter said of the PG Junior National experience. “You’re with the best kids, and when you play with the best you become better.”