Minor league notebook: Rainiers’ Vogelbach a happy camper after trade

Prior to being traded to the Mariners last week, it was commonly thought throughout baseball that Dan Vogelbach needed to be moved to an American League team.

Known for a bat that is more advanced than his glove, the 6-foot, 250-pound first baseman was stuck with no possibility of being the designated hitter for the Chicago Cubs.

Now that he’s with an American League club, there are two ways for Vogelbach’s productive bat to get into the lineup.

The 23-year-old Vogelbach is happy about the trade for a different reason: He is no longer stuck behind Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo, 26, is hitting .289 with 24 home runs and isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

“I don’t know if it was so much the DH as it was Rizzo,” Vogelbach said about his pretrade situation. “I’m anxious to get a fresh start and a new opportunity.”

Vogelbach went 3 for 3 in his Tacoma Rainiers debut on Friday in Salt Lake City, including a home run in his first at-bat. He looks forward to returning to Cheney Stadium on Tuesday.

“Tacoma was awesome when we went there,” said Vogelbach, who went 4 for 13 when the Iowa Cubs visited in May. Included was a long home run off then-Tacoma starter James Paxton.

A three-team race

Tacoma has spent every day of the season in first place in the PCL’s Pacific-North Division, but it looks like it’s going to be a tight race for the rest of the summer.

Second-place Reno took a seven-game win streak into Saturday’s action, and trails the Rainiers by 2 1/2 games. Outfielder Mitch Haniger has been on an extended tear, batting .371 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs in his first 40 games since being promoted from Double-A.

Third-place Fresno is 3 1/2 games back, and recently received an injection of young talent with the addition of top prospects Alex Bregman and Teoscar Hernandez.

Infielder Bregman has hit .356 with six homers in his first 17 games for Fresno, while the outfielder Hernandez is batting .338 with nine extra-base hits in 19 games.

The schedule is set up for a potentially thrilling finish. Tacoma plays its final 13 games against Reno and Fresno, with nine coming against the Aces.

The Rainiers have home-field advantage for the final eight games of the season.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.