Andrew Vaughn is getting a lot of love.
The White Sox first-round pick in last year's draft, Vaughn is a slugging first baseman who was downright sensational in his collegiate career at Cal. Now, he's one of the White Sox highest rated prospects and a guy who could soon be swinging his powerful bat on the South Side.
Just how highly do the White Sox think of him? Here's director of player development Chris Getz talking about Vaughn at SoxFest over the weekend:
"He's a very talented kid, and he's talented for a lot of different reasons," Getz said during a Saturday-afternoon seminar. "When you look at the physical ability, especially in the frame that he has, and what he's able to do to a baseball, it's pretty fun to watch.
"But when you sit down and talk to Andrew Vaughn about hitting, that is the most impressive thing. I sat down, and I just wanted to listen and learn from him. It's like talking to a 10-year vet. I say that because he knows exactly what he needs to do to have success. He has a very advanced approach, and I don't think he'll ever waver from it. He knows exactly what he needs to do on a daily basis to have success against a particular pitcher.
"So Andrew Vaughn's a good one. We're happy to have him."
The White Sox are obviously biased, but the love for Vaughn doesn't stop once you get outside the organization. MLB Pipeline unveiled its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball Saturday, and Vaughn ranked No. 16 in the game, ahead of fellow White Sox youngsters Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal.
And this ought to get White Sox fans salivating even more. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo was asked on Twitter to compare Vaughn to a major leaguer. Mayo came up with one of the best hitters in White Sox history.
Ohh, I love the MLB comps, right @jimcallisMLB? I'll go with Paul Konerko. He could go to AA to start the year and finish in AAA. He could be MLB-ready but not sure there's room/need yet. #Top100Prospects https://t.co/gUPPicQKw8— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) January 27, 2020
So the obvious question is now when we'll see Vaughn swinging in the big leagues. He's obviously a year behind his fellow first-rounder, Madrigal, who is expected to reach the majors in the early portions of the 2020 season. But Vaughn might not be very far behind. He only played 29 games at Class A Winston-Salem last season, and in his first full season as a pro, it wouldn't be surprising to see him start at Winston-Salem again. That's speculation, but it would make sense considering it's where Madrigal and Luis Robert started in 2019 and both ended up playing at three levels. Because of the way those two flew through the system, it would not be surprising to see Vaughn reach Triple-A in 2020, as Mayo said. All would have to go as well as things went for Madrigal and Robert, of course, but given the rave reviews of Vaughn's talent, that shouldn't be out of the question.
While the White Sox have exhibited plenty of patience with their prospects in recent years, they could also be looking at a new situation: being in a pennant race in September. If that's the case, and the lineup could use a little oomph, would they consider bringing Vaughn up in order to help them reach the postseason for the first time in more than a decade? That was a much easier question to answer when no playoff spots were on the line. Now, maybe things could be different.
An interesting element to all this is what kind of room there will be for Vaughn. Jose Abreu isn't going anywhere for the next three seasons, at least. However, the team gave itself some flexibility at the DH spot, with Edwin Encarnacion only on a one-year deal. That contract has an option for the 2021 season, but if Vaughn proves himself ready, the White Sox could move on from Encarnacion after just one year and open up an everyday spot for the young slugger.
Until then, we'll just have to rely on more rave reviews like the ones from Getz and Mayo. And if the guy turns into the second coming of Konerko, well, that will fly go over rather nicely on the South Side.