White Sox: Expect to see Andrew Vaughn in mix sooner rather than later

Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

White Sox likely to look at Andrew Vaughn rather quickly in 2021

Andrew Vaughn was the third overall pick in the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Chicago White Sox and despite having only 245 minor-league plate appearances under his belt, the former University of California star could be in the mix for at-bats on the South Side this season.

Vaughn is the top-ranked prospect in the White Sox organization according to both MLB.com and Baseball America and is listed at No. 13 by MLB.com and No. 21 by BA in their top 100 prospect lists.

He has plus-hitting and power-potential while grading out as likely an average defensive player with below-average speed.

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That may be what keeps him either at first base or in a designated hitter role because, though he has worked out some at third base, and while he has the arm — he was a relief pitcher in addition to playing first as a freshman at Cal — his lack of quickness makes it unlikely he could avoid being a negative defender on the left side of the infield.

Given the problems the White Sox had with the DH spot last season, getting a big bagel (0.0) in Wins Above Replacement from the position as their DHs combined for a .148/.238/.350 slash line in 253 plate appearances with 13 home runs and 25 RBI.

Edwin Encarnacion, now a free agent, made 43 starts as the DH, with Yasmani Grandal (seven), Jose Abreu (six), Zack Collins (three) and Eloy Jimenez (one) also getting time in the spot.

Vaughn could fit into the DH mix nicely while being available to allow Abreu some rest from playing the field at first base.

In 2019, he played in 52 games at Cal, hitting .374/.539/.704 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI in 245 plate appearances, drawing 60 walks and striking out 33 times.

He agreed to a deal quickly after the draft, receiving the full slot bonus of $7,221,200 from the White Sox in late June 2019.

Vaughn got to work quickly after that. He played three games with the White Sox club in the Arizona Rookie League, going 9-for-15 with a homer, two doubles and four RBI before heading off to Kannapolis in the Class-A South Atlantic League.

In 23 games there he slashed .253/.388/.410 in 103 plate appearances, with seven doubles, two homers and 11 RBI and he finished the year at High-A Winston-Salem, hitting .252/.349/.411 in 126 plate appearances over 29 games with eight doubles, three home runs and 21 RBI.

He drew 30 walks and struck out 38 times across the three levels.

While his minor-league season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vaughn impressed at the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg last year, getting some time at third base and in the outfield and showing he’s already just about MLB-ready at the plate, per Jim Callis of MLB.com last fall.

Farm director Chris Getz spoke highly of the soon-to-be 23-year-old.

"“Andrew hits the ball from pole to pole, consistently has good, quality at-bats, works deep counts and always squares up pitches. He’s a combination of hitting and power. There wasn’t too much of a focus on things he needed to improve offensively at the alternative site. It was more a focus on facing upper-level quality pitching on a daily basis.“We moved him around from first base to third base to the outfield to build some athleticism and keep his feet moving. At the end of the day, it’s more about the bat and just finding a home for him. He can play first base.”"

Given the gaming of the system organizations like to do in order to keep young players under team control for extra time, we might not see Vaughn in a White Sox uniform until sometime in mid- to late April once there’s no danger of him accumulating a full season of service time.

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But provided he hits in the Cactus League and for however long he spends at Triple-A Charlotte (most likely), it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to assume Vaughn will be in the lineup before May 1.