The John Arguello Awards conclude today, as our panel of minor league reporters at Cubs Den now turn their attention to Minor League Player of the Year.
The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year: Jason Vosler, 3B
If you are a 16th round draft choice and 469th player selected overall, how do you get the attention of the front office? If you’re Jason Vosler, you lead the Cubs’ minor league system in home runs two years straight, and lead the system in RBI while playing at the highest levels this season.
Selected in the 2014 draft as a middle infielder, Vosler had to struggle for recognition among fellow draftees Chesny Young, Alex Tomasovich, and Andrew Ely along with high profile international signing Gleyber Torres. In 30 games with Short Season-A Boise following the draft, Vosler had an encouraging .266/.361/.372/.733 line.
Some of the playing time issues for the left-handed hitter were solved upon his promotion to Low-A South Bend in 2015. Vosler was moved to third base and split time with Jesse Hodges while also seeing action at shortstop, second, and first base. However, Vosler surprised observers by being promoted to Advanced-A Myrtle Beach after only 69 games and hitting .235 with 4 home runs. Taking over third base for the Pelicans, Vosler showed some improvement both offensively and defensively. In 38 games, Vosler added 6 more home runs to finish at .238/.323/.374/.697 with 10 homers and 40 RBI.
His success in 2015 coupled with some sluggish starts by teammates made Vosler a marked man in 2016 as he returned to Myrtle Beach. With no protection, Carolina League pitchers were able to thwart his emerging power, as Vosler improved his contact rate to .254/.323/.359/.682 with 3 home runs and 51 RBI between Advanced-A and Double-A Tennessee.
As the 2017 season came around, Vosler was seen as only a potently utility player with some limited power. An adjustment made by Vosler in his swing during the offseason would change that evaluation. Vosler exploded in the pitcher-friendly Southern League, popping 21 home runs along with 18 doubles, 81 RBI, and a .241/.343/.429/.772 line. Vosler would add two more home runs and 13 RBI in 23 Arizona Fall League games.
The 2018 season saw the 24-year old back in Tennessee, and not surprisingly seeing some of his numbers suffer. Vosler hit only .238, but the power and production remained with 12 home runs and 46 RBI in 66 games. However, Vosler never seemed to let repeating a level for the third time bother him. “Vosler absolutely loves playing the game” states Tennessee broadcaster Mick Gillispie. “His enthusiasm is contagious and brings a passion to the diamond.” Tennessee coach Ben Carhart agrees. “Vosler is a great guy” said Carhart. “I had the privilege to play with him and to coach. He is a guy that goes about his business with a purpose, and he is one of the best teammates in any clubhouse he walks into.”
That work ethic made an impression, and Vosler was promoted up to Triple-A Iowa. Des Moines Register correspondent Tommy Birch noted “Vosler didn't seem to miss much of a beat when he made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A. His power and approach have been impressive. The patience he's shown and power that's carried over has certainly turned heads.”
Iowa broadcaster Alex Cohen was also impressed. “Vosler is a high character, smart guy. For all the accolades he gets for power, he is a much better situational hitter than I thought he’d be. He is surehanded, and has a strong arm at 3rd. I love that he put up better overall numbers other than BB and OBP in AAA than he did in AA.”
To that end, Vosler improved his contact rate to a .263 batting average to end the season at .251/.330/.4667/.797 with 29 doubles, 2 triples, 23 home runs, and 93 RBI.
Vosler’s biggest competition for this year’s award came from another converted middle infielder. Selected in the 15th round in 2017, left-handed hitting Jared Young transitioned to outfield and first base as he slugged 16 home runs and 76 RBI while batting .300/.357/.485/.842 between South Bend and Myrtle Beach.
Trent Giambrone and Zack Short, Vosler’s infield teammates at Tennessee, kept the heat on him in the race for the home run crown. The 24 -year old Giambrone swatted 17 home runs and stole 26 bases while hitting .251/.333/.440/.772 and 49 RBI. Short, 23-years old, matched Giambrone with 17 home runs and drove in 59 while batting .227/. 356/.417/.773.
Lastly, 19-year old catcher Miguel Amaya looked like a shoo-in for the award after becoming a Midwest League All-Star. But the Panamanian slumped badly in the second half to finish at .256/.349/.403/.752 with 21 doubles, 12 home runs, and 52 RBI for South Bend.
As for Jason Vosler, he had this to say about being the John Arguello Minor League Player of the Year:
“Thank you to Cubs Den, this is a great honor. This season, like most, had its ups & downs but luckily, I’m in a first-class organization with great coaches and staff that constantly push you and want you to succeed. The coaches, along with my teammates, have had made a huge difference in my game along the way. Getting up to Iowa the second half gave me some added confidence, which helped. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Note: The author would like to thank Tennessee coach Ben Carhart, Iowa broadcaster Alex Cohen, Des Moines Register correspondent Tommy Birch, Tennessee broadcaster Mick Gillispie, and Jason Vosler along with Michael Ernst and Stephanie Lynn for contributing to this article.
Tags: Alex Cohen, Alex Tomasovich, Andrew Ely, Ben Carhart, Chesny Young, Gleyber Torres, Jared Young, Jason Vosler, Jesse Hodges, Michael Ernst, Mick Gillispie, Miguel Amaya, Stephanie Lynn, Tom U, Tommy Birch, Trent Giambrone, Zack Short