There’s no quit in Matt Vogel.
Not after bouncing around the lower levels of minor league baseball for five seasons. Not after a season with Baltimore Orioles Triple-A team. And not after three stints with the Long Island Ducks.
So it goes for the former Patchogue-Medford High School star pitcher, who this month landed in Valencia, Venezuela, where he’s playing for Navegantes del Magallanes, historically the most successful club in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
The 28-year-old fireballer’s international debut comes after posting a microscopic 0.97 ERA — allowing just four runs in 37 innings of work — in 2023 with the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Frontier League.
“This is a new thing for me. I’ve never really played baseball out of the United States,” said Vogel, a 2013 Pat-Med graduate who played college ball for South Carolina and was drafted in 2016 by Tampa Bay. “I’m excited for the passionate fanbase. Just being able to hear the cheers and the boos .. That’s what makes me look forward to this season. It’s going to be very fun to be in this atmosphere.”
Vogel is expected pitch out of the bullpen for the Cappies when play in the winter league begins this month.
“Vogel is a pitcher who can help us in the final innings, in that last third of the game,” said team official Luis Blasini. “He has a good repertoire and it is always important to add arms that can contribute in the bullpen.”
Perhaps least surprised by Vogel’s latest stop on his baseball journey is his high school baseball coach.
“He’s the most competitive player I’ve ever coached,” Pat-Med varsity baseball coach Anthony Frascogna said. “He’s an all around great player. I know he’ll do a great job.”
Frascogna added that Vogel once struck out 20 batters in a high school game and that as a hitter Vogel still holds Pat-Med’s record for highest batting average with runners in scoring position.
“He’s also someone who always comes back to help out with the program and youth league players,” Frascogna said. “He’s like family.”
What attracted Vogel most to Navegantes del Magallanes was their track record of decades of success. The team has captured 13 league championships and two Caribbean Series titles.
Scores of MLB stars have played for Navegantes del Magallanes, including Jose Altuve, Edgardo Alfonzo, Tommie Agee, Johan Santana, Barry Bonds and Elvis Andrus. They are managed by former Mets and Yankees infielder Miguel Cairo.
In the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, eight teams play 63 regular season games from October to December. The best five teams play a second league phase of 16 games in round-robin format in January. Finally, the top two teams from the round-robin phase face each other in a best of seven series to determine the league’s champion.
Top image: YouTube
YOU SHOULD KNOW: Matt Vogel pitched in 27 games with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in 2022, recording 38 strikeouts in 28 innings and posting a 5.14 ERA.