Christian Vogler has trouble remembering a time he hasn’t played baseball.
The 19-year-old Berwick resident figures he has played since he was about four years old.
The youngest of three brothers, Vogler, a West Kings graduate, says his dad Phil and oldest brother Nathan “had a big influence on me. I used to go to my brother’s games, and when I got older, I started playing myself.”
As a young baseball player, he played "everywhere." By the time he went to Kentville to play Midget AAA, he was a full-time pitcher, and he's stuck with it ever since.
After spending 2010 through 2012 with the Nova Scotia Youth Selects provincial team, Vogler split last season between the Tri-County junior Rangers and the Kentville senior Wildcats.
This summer, he is playing for the Kentville junior Wildcats, and plans to return this fall for a second year at Santa Cruz's Cabrillo Junior College in northern California.
“They approached me,” he said of the Kentville juniors, “and I wanted to play for them. I played with a lot of the guys in midget, and we won provincials in 2012.”
Asked how he ended up at Cabrillo, Vogler said that after finishing high school, “I wasn’t really sure what to do with baseball.”
He talked to Cory Kent, a veteran pitcher with the senior Wildcats, “who has been a big help to me over the years.” Kent is originally from California, and attended Cabrillo.
“He was trying to talk me into going somewhere warm so I could play all year. He suggested Cabrillo, so I emailed the coach a video of me pitching. He liked what he saw, and told me to come down and I’d have a spot in his program.”
Unfortunately, Vogler's first year at Cabrillo was a bit of a downer. He ended up red-shirting due to an injury, but he remains upbeat and enthusiastic about returning to California this fall.
At Cabrillo, he explained, “they have two seasons,” a fall season and then the main season after Christmas. Vogler says he “threw probably 35 innings” in the fall, but “started having some discomfort with my elbow.”
He was checked out, and was relieved to find out he didn’t require surgery. “There was no real damage, but a flaw in my mechanics had made my shoulder unstable. I had a slight tweak that needed fixing. I went to therapy, and I ended up a lot stronger and faster," he explained.
“They planned on me being the ‘long man’ out of the bullpen before I got hurt. I was disappointed at first, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay.”
However, a call home to his dad “convinced me I had been thinking negatively. He convinced me to stick it out.”
In hindsight, Vogler feels choosing to stay in California might be the best decision he ever made.
"I got to heal properly, and I was in a great spot for rehab. And once I got the green light to practice, I was okay for the summer.”
Back on the mound
And it's full speed ahead for him now.
"I probably could have played senior this summer, too, but I felt it might be too much," he said.
"Coach (Ian) Mosher says I can come out any time I want up to the roster deadline on June 30.”
Vogler also played hockey growing up, but admits he prefers baseball, and especially pitching.
"As a pitcher, I like being in charge of the game, running the show, with the other guys behind you, all wanting to win equally.”
To Vogler, who describes himself as “competitive by nature, it’s a chance to play a game I love, and that’s always been close to me.”
The team aspect is huge, he adds.
"I've always been a team player, and I like to see the teams I’m on succeed.”
Vogler has put a lot of hard work into getting to where he is today.
"I don’t really have an off-season, especially now that I’m in the U.S. all winter.“
He added, “I owe a lot to Cory, and to Ian (Mosher). They took me under their wing at a relatively young age, saw some potential there, and stuck with me.”
He is looking forward to returning to California, and confirmed that Zach Thibault, a former midget and Youth Selects teammate, is going to attend Cabrillo as well.
Another former teammate, Luke Muise, “might be going, too, but I haven’t really been talking to him.”
Vogler hopes to someday be drafted or signed by a major league club.
“I’d love to play NCAA baseball after I’m done at Cabrillo, which is a junior college, he added.
After two more years there, he'll still have two years of eligibility left to play NCAA.
He looks back on the past year as “a phenomenal experience, and a learning experience, even though I didn’t get to play. I feel I’m not only a stronger pitcher, but smarter, too. I’m not just a thrower anymore. I’m able to use off-speed pitches to my advantage, and to set up my fastball.”