When you have the No. 3 overall pick, it’s never too soon to take a quick peek into this year’s MLB draft. This year’s draft class is loaded with excellent hitting prospects, but is relatively weak on the pitching side.
Draft Prospects You Should Know is a new series that features prospects who the White Sox could pursue in this year’s draft. As the June draft nears, we’ll return to many of these athletes and provide updates on whether their stocks are rising (or falling).
Age listed as of Day One of the Draft (June 3).
Baseball America 3
Vaughn once was a relatively unheralded second base/third base recruit from Santa Rosa, Calif.. However, consider him unheralded no longer. After winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2017, he won the Golden Spikes Award last year as NCAA’s best collegiate player. Vaughn’s stats haven’t dropped one iota in 2019, despite the fact that he rarely gets good pitches to hit. Here are his college stats through June 1:
2017: 54 G, 218 AB, .349/.414/.555, 7 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 50 RBIs, 1-of-3 SB, 19 BB, 24 Ks
2018: 54 G, 199 AB, .402/.531/.819, 14 2B, 0 3B, 23 HR, 63 RBIs, 4-of-8 SB, 44 BB, 18 Ks
2019: 48 G, 169 AB, .385/.539/.728, 13 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 49 RBIs, 2-of-2 SB, 53 BB, 30 Ks
These stats don’t include his numbers from the wooden-bat Cape Cod League in 2018, where he slashed .308/.368/.654 with five homers in just 52 at-bats. He’s also been hit by pitches 23 times during his college career, which is an indicator that he stands pretty close to the plate. His numbers this year fall squarely between his outstanding freshman and sophomore campaigns, but that’s OK. It would’ve been hard to match last year’s numbers, considering he gets so relatively few pitches to hit. Plus, the Pac-12 Conference has been arguably the best conference when it comes to pitching this year—perhaps even better than the highly vaunted SEC. These are his compiled collegiate stats to date, which are essentially the equivalent of a full Major League season (imagine if he could put up these kinds of yearly stats in the Bigs):
156 G, 586 AB, .377/.495/.695, 34 2B, 1 3B, 50 HR, 162 RBIs, 7-of-13 SB, 116 BB, 72 K.
Obviously, there’s a lot to like in Vaughn. He hits for a high average and to all fields, walks twice as much as he strikes out (his career K-rate sits at 9.89%), and has enjoyed consistent results throughout his career as a result. In fact, due to his highly advanced approach at the dish, Baseball America rated Vaughn as their preseason pick for best hitter eligible for this year’s MLB draft. To go a step further, they also said of him, “Vaughn has an idyllic righthanded swing with the requisite bat speed and strength needed to allow scouts to peg him as a plus hitter with 80-grade raw power. He takes a professional approach to batting practice and works the ball to all fields before games, rather than simply pulling the ball and trying to hit home runs as often as possible. In games, however, Vaughn has no issues going over the fence to the right-center field gap or turning on pitches inside with easy impact.” He’s also decent defensively, with a solid arm; he’s actually pitched in 11 games for the Golden Bears.
The only negatives about his game are things Vaughn has no control over. First basemen often fall in the draft in order to make way for more athletic players who play more advanced defensive positions. Also, right-handed first basemen usually are overlooked in favor of lefties. Also, Vaughn doesn’t have the Frank Thomas build going for him, at a relatively modest 6´0´´ and 215 pounds. Vaughn’s consistently spectacular results make those issues relatively moot, however. Vaughn’s power and hitting are both graded 60 by MLB Pipeline, while his defense and arm are both graded 50. Those grades, especially the offensive ones, may actually be a bit on the light side.
Vaughn is considered by many to be among the three prospects in this year’s draft. If he falls to the White Sox with the third pick (assuming for a moment that Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt, Jr. are already gone), would the White Sox actually draft him? The White Sox have several players who could eventually play first base in the future, including Zack Collins, Gavin Sheets, Jake Burger and Eloy Jimenez, among others; it’s possible the Sox could select a more athletic player like shortstop C.J. Abrams, or even outfielders Hunter Bishop or J.J. Bleday, as a result. Scouting director Nick Hostetler loves college hitters with tremendous plate discipline, and Vaughn is arguably better than any chosen thus far under his watch (including Collins, Burger, and Nick Madrigal). While it would be understandable if the Sox decided to go elsewhere due to their plethora of first base candidates, the White Sox could still opt for Vaughn if he were available as the third pick (unless, of course, either Rutschman or Witt, Jr. were still on the board). After all, consistently awesome hitters are hard to come by as this year’s squad of Birmingham Barons can attest.
Here’s Vaughn hitting a gigantic homer against the University of San Francisco, courtesy of the Pac 12:
And courtesy of 2080 Baseball, here’s Vaughn representing the U.S. College National Baseball squad against Chinese Taipei last year:
Previously, on Draft Prospects You Should Know
Adley Rutschman, Oregon State University C
Cameron Cannon, University of Arizona 2B/3B
Matt Cronin, University of Arkansas LHRP
Jason Hodges, Marist (Ill.) H.S. OF-1B
Jack Leiter, Delbarton (N.J.) H.S. RHSP
Matt Wallner, Southern Miss University OF
Tyler Dyson, University of Florida RHSP
Rece Hinds, IMG Baseball Academy (Fla.) 3B
Daniel Espino, Georgia Premier Academy RHSP
Quinn Priester, Cary-Grove (Ill.) H.S. RHSP