Dan Vogelbach and Billy McKinney Go Deep, McKinney's First of the Year

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Dan Vogelbach and Billy McKinney Go Deep, McKinney’s First of the Year

Chicago Cubs

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Another day, another couple homers for some recognizable Cubs prospects.

Today’s edition features two deep shots, and corresponding statistical updates from first baseman Dan Vogelbach down in AAA Iowa, and outfielder Billy McKinney down in AA Tennessee.

These two players have gotten off to fairly different starts to the 2016 season, but both are really good hitters that have capped off a nice stretch of baseball with a home run last night.

First, let’s start with McKinney. Unfortunately, McKinney’s home run has not been made available yet, so you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that he hit it, and he hit it out to deep right field. The home run was McKinney’s first of the year, and came as part of a 2-4 night.

The fact that it was McKinney’s first home run of the season actually serves to underscore the general weird start to his 2016 season. His season slash line is pretty bad overall – .252/.352/.316 – even though it gets quite a bit better over his last 21 games (90 PAs): .293/.389/.400. Obviously, that average and OBP are great in the recent stretch, but he’s still hitting for relatively little power and has an ISO of just .107 during that hot stretch (.065 for the season).

McKinney is not a guy that typically hits a lot of home runs (7 total in 2015), but he does typically have a much more usable ISO and SLG than the numbers he’s put up this year. He is returning from a hairline fracture in his right knee from last August, though, so maybe he just needs some time to regain his form. Either way, like a typical Cubs prospect, he’s not striking out (17.0%) and he’s taking plenty of walks (12.6%). He’ll continue to come around.

So lets move on to Dan Vogelbach.

Vogelbach is the Triple-A Iowa Cubs’ big first baseman who is once again getting off to a great start with the bat (he did the same for the Smokies in 2015). His early season success through May was capped off with a home run on Tuesday night:

That opposite field home run was Vogelbach’s eighth of the season and came as part of a 3-4 night that also included a walk. The night bumped Vogelbach’s slash line up to an impressive .280/.415/.500 (.407 wOBA) on the season, which also includes a .220 ISO, and matching 17.9% walk and strikeout rates (classic Cubs prospect plate discipline*).

Vogelbach’s path to the majors is still unclear, but if he really continues to hit the way he has, he will definitely have a place on the bench – at least in September. His plate discipline has always been a strength throughout his career, but his bat (specifically his power) has long been praised by scouts if rarely seen on the field (to the extent it should have been, that is). Welp, it sure is showing up this year in his debut campaign at AAA Iowa.

For more Cubs prospects fun, check out today’s bountiful Cubs Prospect Notes, if you missed it.

*(From Brett: how crazy is it that “classic Cubs prospect plate discipline” now means something good?)

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami