The Pan American Games will be held in Toronto, Ontario from July 10 to 19, and the U.S. team just announced its roster. Among the 24 players selected, the Cubs placed two: center fielder Albert Almora, Jr. and first baseman/DH Dan Vogelbach.
Although the pool of eligible players was limited to those not currently on a Major League 40-man roster, it is still an honor to be recognized and a nice showing for the Cubs. Not all teams were represented equally. The Kansas City Royals, for example, led the pack with four players on the team, while the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Phillies and Rangers each placed two. The remaining twelve players each came from a different MLB system. Former Cubs Casey Coleman and Brian Bogusevic also made the squad, though that may be a little less exciting for them than it is for the youngsters.
On the whole, Albert Almora, Jr. is probably not having the year he hoped for (as Luke discussed this morning). After 60 AA games (248 PAs), he is hitting just .246/.293/.344. He is walking more than he usually does (6.0%) and is still hardly ever striking out (10.1%), but his .098 ISO and .296 wOBA leaves plenty to be desired, offensively. However, on the defensive side of the ball, Almora has been very good. It seems that every other week he is recognized for his continued defensive prowess and that probably factored greatly into his nomination and selection to the USA Team.
Dan Vogelbach, on the other hand, is having quite the offensive year. Over 59 AA games (245 PAs), Vogelbach is slashing .285/.408/.435. While the prodigious power hasn’t yet shown up, he is walking at a fantastic rate (17.6%) and striking out a controlled rate (22.0%) for a slugger. There’s still time for Vogelbach’s power to show up, especially with his advanced approach at the plate, but he will have to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster at the end of the season, if he is to remain with the Cubs (he is Rule 5 eligible). Unlike Almora, Vogelbach isn’t very strong defensively. He plays an adequate (at best) first base, and may well be destined for a DH role in the majors.