TAMPA, Fla.-- For the second time in the last two years an Azusa Pacific alum has been named minor league player of the year for his organization. The Tampa Bay Rays announced Stephen Vogt, (’07) as the club’s minor league player of the year after the catcher knocked in 105 RBI with 17 home-runs and a .298 average for AA Montgomery, and AAA Durham.
“It’s one of those things I never thought would happen…I never thought I’d be the player of the year and for them to choose me is a huge honor,” said Vogt.
Vogt, who was named a Southern League all-star, set a career high with 35 doubles, seven triples, and 152 hits in 128 games. His RBI total of 105 was the 11th highest in all of minor league baseball, and ranked fourth in Rays’ minor league history.
“This year was beyond all my expectations,” said Vogt. “As cliche as it sounds I take it one day at a time. I haven’t looked back and I haven’t looked forward, I’ve just focused on each day.”
A stud from the opening pitch in AA ball, Vogt’s best game this season came against the Mississippi Braves on June 8. The slugger went 2-4, blasting a pair of home-runs while knocking in 5 RBI as his Montgomery Biscuits won 10-5. It was Vogt’s third multi home-run game in a 40-day span, while his five RBI were the most he had in one outing this year. In AA Montgomery the Azusa Pacific Alum was especially lethal when it mattered most; batting .358 with runners on, .368 with runners in scoring position, .434 with runners on and two outs, and a ridiculous .462 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
“I think a lot of that really stems from our shortstop (Roy Olmedo) hitting in front of me all year. He was on base a ton and gave me a lot of opportunities,” said Vogt. “As a hitter you’re salivating when you have a chance to drive in runs.”
His strong play got him called up to the AAA Durham Bulls of the International League on July 28 where all he did there was hit .290 (.821 OPS) with four home-runs, 14 doubles, and 20 RBI in 31 games; helping the Durham Bulls to an 80-62 record (18-12 in August) and a South Division title. Even though he’s just one step from the big leagues, Vogt’s time at Azusa Pacific still influences him daily.
“I can’t say enough about how big an impact Azusa Pacific and the coaches had on me and Alyssa (his wife, formerly Ferdaszewski; women’s basketball ’08),” Vogt said.
“Coach Svagdis is still one of my biggest mentors and friends. He was a coach-mentor and now he’s a friend-mentor. He’s been such an influence on me to be a man of God and father. I can’t say enough about the things he preaches and teaches…He’s a big part to my success on and off the field.”
Vogt was selected in the 12th round of the 2007 MLB draft, along with fellow Cougar Scott Hodson (6th round). He is one of six Azusa Pacific baseball players that have been drafted since 2007.
Brandon Sisk went undrafted, but signed to play for an independent league team in 2006 before signing with the Kansas City Royals in 2008. The southpaw, who was named the Royals’ 2010 minor league pitcher of the year, posted another strong season, going 7-3 with a 2.52 ERA (4-2; 1.41 ERA for the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers) in 41 appearances as a reliever between AA and AAA ball.
Nine former Cougars played professionally last summer, three of which were just a phone call away from the show.