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What to expect from Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn

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The Mariners are bringing sexy 'Bach to the lineup while adding some depth to the pitching side of things

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you were off on a week-long hike through the Alaskan wilderness to find yourself, you're very aware that the Mariners have landed 1B/DH Dan Vogelbach and RHP Paul Blackburn from the Chicago Cubs in a trade for Mike Montgomery. Losing Montgomery stings; he was a cheap and talented swiss army knife of an arm out of the pen with loads of team control left. The Mariners and Cubs recognized this, of course, and it's the main reason the Mariners were able to tear Vogelbach–a player who popped up in rumors regarding Andrew Miller, one of the best relievers in all of baseball–away from the Cubs. Having Blackburn added in (along with the loss of Jordan Pries, which, meh) made the trade all the more likable.

So what exactly should we expect from the two newest Mariners in the near and distant future? Let's take a look:

Paul Blackburn – RHP

2016 (AA): 18 G, 102.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 6.33 K/9, 2.29 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP

Blackburn was the 56th overall pick out of Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA back in 2012. He was never considered to be an ace in the making, but instead a potential mid-rotation arm who could get by on a combination of decent stuff and command.

The Cubs were patient with Blackburn after selecting him, moving him up exactly one level every year:

Year (Level)

FIP

ERA

K/9

BB/9

IP

2012 (Rookie League)

5.39

3.48

5.66

3.05

20.2

2013 (Low-A)

4.47

3.33

7.43

5.67

46.0

2014 (Class-A)

3.84

3.23

5.77

2.38

117.0

2015 (High-A)

3.22

3.11

6.32

2.21

89.2

2016 (Double-A)

3.46

3.17

6.33

2.29

102.1

The mileage on Blackburn's arm is low, but he'll need to prove he can hold up and maintain consistency over the course of a full season. From MLB.com's scouting report on Blackburn:

Blackburn can throw 90-94 mph sinkers with downhill plane to both sides of the plate and back them up with a sharp curveball. But there were several starts last year when he had an 88-91 mph fastball and a vanilla curve. He still needs to add strength so he can maintain quality stuff deeper into games and longer over the course of the season.

The wildly fluctuating starts have been a trend in 2016, as well, with flashes of brilliance sandwiched in between ineffective outings. Blackburn is just 22-years-old, so there is still time for him to add to his frame and develop a more consistent presence on the mound, but for now he's still a long ways off from being the kind of guy you'd feel comfortable committing more than a spot start here and there from now through next year, barring a vast improvement over the offseason. Picture pre-injury Adrian Sampson. That's about the role/performance level I'd expect Blackburn to be at next year.

If he does figure out how to be more consistent on the mound, that mid-rotation starter label is still attainable, but for now he projects as a No. 5/6 starter or long relief type. As long as he continues to pound the strike zone, he should find his way onto the big league roster eventually in some capacity.

***
Dan Vogelbach – 1B

2016 (AAA): .319/.425/.556, 158 wRC+, .425 wOBA, .236 ISO

There is no doubting that Vogelbach was the more important piece in the deal. Immediately after the trade went down, Dipoto remarked upon Vogelbach's potential to be a middle-of-the-order bat for the next few years. So just what kind of middle-of-the-order bat are we talking here? Vogelbach weighs in at 250 pounds and plays first base, so he's clearly a big ol' old school light-tower power slugger, right? In some ways, he is that guy, but in far more ways, he is not.

As a man without much defensive value, Vogelbach was drafted in the second round back in 2011 purely for his ability to hit the living crap out of the baseball. Also, the Cubs were probably sold on his 80-grade bat flip, as seen at the seven-second mark of the video below (warning: people screaming):

While Vogelbach is clearly able to hit the ball a country mile, he appears to be more than willing to sacrifice power in order to boost his contact and on-base abilities.

The on-base skills are impressive. Across the ten stops Vogelbach has made in the organization since 2011 (including repeated levels and the Arizona Fall League), the lowest OBP he's posted is .357. In 502 total minor league games, he's hit .290/.390/.487. And yes, he is still capable of doing this:

The comparison I've heard the most is the good version of Billy Butler, and I think that's just about spot on in terms of what you'd hope Vogelbach becomes: a high-average, high-OBP, solid-slugging 1B/DH who won't give you much value on the bases or on defense. Reports indicate that his defense has improved, but even with the improvement, you're probably only looking at a glove that is tolerable rather than preferred.

If he could even just be Adam Lind with the ability to hit left-handed pitching, that would be a big addition to the lineup in the near and distant future.

Vogelbach is going to hit, and he could be in Seattle in a matter of weeks.

goms.