Jason Vosler is right where he wants to be.
While playing professional baseball has been a lifelong dream of his, the Chicago Cubs prospect is finally at third base – the position he always wanted to play – for the Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach.
Vosler has thrived for the Pelicans since settling into his role at the “hot corner.” This season, he has a team-high .285 batting average with a home run, 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored through 44 games.
He also has a .922 fielding percentage – each start coming at third base – for Myrtle Beach which sits in second place, 4 1/2 games behind the Salem Red Sox in the Carolina League’s Southern Division.
“He came here and had the opportunity to play everyday and show to us what he can do in the field as well as at the plate, and I think that’s been huge for him and his confidence. He’s been great,” Myrtle Beach hitting coach Mariano Duncan said. “I like him so much because he’s a fighter. He likes to come to the field early every day, pays attention to every little detail and always does the best he can.”
Vosler was primarily a shortstop during his high school career at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., before being recruited to play third base at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.
That changed quickly, though.
I like him so much because he’s a fighter. He likes to come to the field early every day, pays attention to every little detail and always does the best he can.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans hitting coach Mariano Duncan
Starting his freshman campaign at third base, Vosler was called to duty elsewhere after the team’s second baseman broke his ankle early on. He would finish the season at second base, being told the spot at third base was his the following season.
Prior to the campaign, however, Vosler would move to shortstop after the starter at the position quit the baseball team. He would wind up finishing the year at shortstop, playing the position his junior year as well.
“I was always supposed to go to third base,” said Vosler, who batted .307 with 11 home runs, 113 RBIs and 93 runs scored in three seasons at Northeastern. “But it never really worked out.”
Vosler received the opportunity to play third base after being drafted by the Cubs in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, though not on an everyday basis.
He was assigned to Class A-Short Season Eugene (Ore.), playing two games at third base, 12 at second base and another 12 at shortstop, batting .266 with 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored in his first professional season.
Last year, Vosler finally got to play third base – first with Low-A South Bend (Ind.), playing 38 of 55 games at third base before being promoted to Myrtle Beach. With the Pelicans, Vosler played 35 games at third base and just three at first base, batting .238 with 10 homers, 40 RBIs and 45 runs scored between the two stops.
“I actually like that I’ve played a bunch of different positions, because I feel like it makes me more valuable to the organization,” Vosler said. “They know I can play everywhere across the board.”
Since last season, Vosler said he has improved quite a bit and it has showed.
“I started getting more aggressive, swinging a little earlier in the count instead of trying to work the counts too deep,” he said. “I see a pitch I like [early], I’m hitting it. Maybe in year’s past I would have fouled it off or missed – more often than not – and I feel like I’m squaring up more balls.”
Vosler was also a big part of the Pelicans’ 2015 Carolina League Mills Cup championship run, which he described as one of the best experiences of his life.
“That was unbelievable,” Vosler said. “I obviously got here from South Bend a little later and was here for about the last two months and then the playoffs, but that was a great experience. I hadn’t won anything that big, and having the celebration is something I’ll never forget and now we have the rings from it. It’s great. Great season.”
Pelicans first-year manager Buddy Bailey has already seen what Vosler can do and thinks the sky is the limit as far as his potential.
“He’s been steady all year. He has a great work ethic, goes about the business the right way, he’s very mature and he’s a good kid; his parents did a good job raising him,” Bailey said. “He’s one of the first to the ballpark everyday and is always ready to work. Some of the numbers he has speaks for itself and when you work that hard, you’re going to get most out of your ability. Hopefully in a couple of years through that hard work and dedication he can make himself a big league player.”
That was the dream Vosler had as a kid that loved baseball and hockey growing up in West Nyack, N.Y. He played basketball, football and soccer in his youth as well but dropped those sports and focused on just baseball and hockey as he entered high school.
I actually like that I’ve played a bunch of different positions, because I feel like it makes me more valuable to the organization.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans third baseman Jason Vosler
Growing up a fan of the New York Yankees, Vosler said he lived about 30 minutes away from Yankee Stadium, regularly attending games with his parents. Sitting in the stands watching his favorite player Derek Jeter, Vosler had hopes of playing on a similar stage, and said that helped influence his decision to pursue a career in baseball.
“I was always the kid that had those dreams and aspirations. I would always show up to games before batting practice – just seeing their routines and watching them go about their days,” Vosler said. “That helped me [understand] and make it more real, because I knew I might be in their position or in their shoes one day.”
So, the decision was that much easier when decided to drop hockey. However, Vosler said he will always have love for the the game.
“They both started conflicting a little bit, so I decided that baseball was a better avenue for me to get a college scholarship and have a career in and I dropped hockey and really focused on baseball, year-round,” said Vosler, a fan of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. “But hockey has always been special to me.”
Vosler keeps up with his favorite teams on the go, and when he’s not playing baseball he’s at the beach, reading a book, watching his favorite shows “The Office” and “Entourage” on Netflix, or texting his girlfriend, who he met during his time at South Bend and is a big Cubs fan.
Who knows? He may wind up playing in front of her at Wrigley Field one day – something Vosler certainly is working to achieve.
“You need constant improvement every single day, and take the coaches’ advice for what it is and use it to your advantage. It’s tough to not think about who is in front of you, but you kind of have to put that away and just play well wherever you’re at,” Vosler said. “You can’t be figuring out where you fit in, because you never know what may happen. Whether it’s a trade, an injury or position move. So you just have to play well where you’re at, do your own thing and do the best you can and see where things take you.”