Will newly acquired third baseman Jason Vosler play a role in 2019 for the San Diego Padres.
Don’t sleep on San Diego Padres third baseman Jason Vosler. General manager AJ Preller says he isn’t done adding to his roster and third base is one of two positions the Padres have been adamant about upgrading this offseason, however, even if Preller can bring in someone who isn’t a stopgap to the hot corner, Jason Vosler could command your attention in 2019.
The San Diego Padres were busy on November 20th, making three trades to help clear roster spots for Rule 5 eligible prospects like Chris Paddack, Austin Allen, Edward Olivares, and four others. One of those trades was a deal with the Chicago Cubs in which the Padres sent relief pitcher Rowan Wick (8.1 IP, 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA) to Chicago for Vosler, a corner infielder and former top 30 prospect for the Cubs.
Vosler is currently not on the Padres 40-man roster and was once again left undrafted in the Rule 5 draft, leading to many questions about his true potential, if teams passed on the left-handed bat numerous times in the Rule 5. However, his new approach at the plate has led to productive gains at the plate.
San Diego currently has Greg Garcia on the 40-man, a left-handed hitter and on-base specialist, Ty France, a right-handed hitter who showed off his gap and over-the-fence power along with the ability to get on base, and Ian Kinsler who could find himself at third base as soon as Fernando Tatis Jr.makes his way onto the major league roster. Vosler’s powerful left-handed bat could be an attractive option to Andy Green when filling out his lineup card, on occasion.
In his first three seasons with the Cubs, Vosler worked his way up to Double-A, hitting just 14 home runs and never posting an OPS above .700 in his first two full seasons. All of that changed in 2017. Between 2017 and 2018 with the AA Tennessee Smokies and AAA Iowa Cubs, Vosler hit 44 home runs and 47 doubles in 258 games. He posted a .772 OPS in 2017 and a .797 OPS between AA/AAA in 2018.
While focusing on lifting the ball and hitting fly balls has led to a surge in his power production and ISO power, his strikeout rate has increased and his on-base percentage took a big hit, once reaching AAA. Here is a look at his production over the past two seasons, including two different stints in AA and his 63 games in AAA.
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2017: (AA)– 531 ABs, 10% BB, 22.6% K, .241 BA, .343 OBP, 125 wRC+
2018: (AA)– 282 ABs, 13.1% BB, 24.8% K, .238 BA, .351 OBP, 132 wRC+
2018: (AAA)– 252 ABs, 5.2% BB, 31.3% K, .263 BA, .306 OBP, 95 wRC+
The one thing about his uptick in batting average at the Triple-A level is his BABIP. Vosler’s .347 BABIP, a 60+ point improvement over the last two stops, suggest that he was aided by a little luck in AAA. There’s also the note that as his flyball and home run/fly ball rate has increased, so has his pull-rate. If Vosler can find a balance this spring, there is potential to be a contributor off the bench for the San Diego Padres in 2019.
Of course, we would rather be discussing a new third baseman that helps propel this team to the next level, however, as strictly a left-handed bench bat, Vosler could be valuable. He will have to show that he can work the count better at the major league level but he can hit RHP well, can hold his own with the glove, and provides a power at the plate, something the Padres don’t have a lot of outside of Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, and Wil Myers (if he is healthy).
When spring training begins, keep an eye on the potential battle between Ty France and Jason Vosler for one of the last roster spots. It could be an underrated spring battle as the team sorts out the bench and platoon roles, especially with Vosler’s experience playing multiple infield positions, including first and second base.