Living His Dream

Like many other youngsters with baseballs, bats, and gloves dancing in their head, Will Vogl told his elementary school teacher he was going to be a professional baseball player one day. The only difference was he believed it would happen. Several years later, it has.
“One of my friends the other day said ‘Remember that? And you actually did it,’ ” Vogl recalled. “It’s unbelievable.”
Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Mets last summer, the St. John’s product, a third team All-American selection as a senior, is starting every day for the New York Mets’ Single-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, of the New York-Penn League.
So far, the Pacifica, California native is flourishing. The speedy yet powerful left fielder is batting .293 (second among all regulars) in 21 games, with 22 hits, seven RBI’s and six stolen bases. He has batted everywhere in the lineup for the first-place Cyclones (15-6), from the second and third spot to down in the seven hole.
When the Mets signed him last June, they immediately noticed his unique combination of power and speed for a smaller guy. One scout told him they liked his “bat control.”
Undersized for a power hitter at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, Vogl showed surprising pop as a member of the Red Storm, belting 16 homers in two seasons at spacious Jack Kaiser Stadium. “For a small guy, he has good power,” St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer said. “So he has some tools to play pro ball.”
He started out with the Cyclones last season, but did not play much, getting only three at-bats in five games. He was sent to low Single-A Hagerstown where he batted .250, drove in 21 runs, and scored 24 times in 55 games.
It was not too disappointing a year, but the Mets had plans for Vogl. They wanted him to become a table-setter and get rid of his power stroke. Already, he is proving to be a quick learner. Vogl has displayed an adept opposite field stroke and an affinity for giving himself up to move up a teammate on the base paths.
“When he needs to hit behind the runner, he does that; when he has to swing with a little power, he can do that,” Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo said. “He’s a good player. He’s been doing the same thing from spring training until now.”
At the same time, Vogl admitted the change is a difficult transition: “It’s tough. Everybody likes to hit home runs, but I have to be realistic.”
Vogl acquiesced. Now he is getting the chance he always wanted. Part of a four-player platoon in the outfield at Hagerstown was tough. Starting in left field every day for the Cyclones is more like it - sellout crowds and exciting edge-of-your-seat, tension-filled games in a baseball-crazed environment.
It really hit him in the season opener, a 5-1 victory over the Staten Island Yankees, when his opposite-field, hit-and-run single sparked the Cyclones’ go-ahead rally, and ignited the capacity crowd at KeySpan Park in Coney Island.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is why I played all these years. This is what I want to do,’ ” he said. “You do not realize it until you get on the field and play for the fans. There is great support, a beautiful ballpark on the ocean, a great atmosphere.”
Just like he predicted all those years back.

More from Around New York