Olympic baseball is coming back in 2020 and two White Sox prospects will take part in qualifying to make it to Tokyo 2020.
Andrew Vaughn and Tyler Johnson were both named as part of USA Baseball’s 28-man roster for the upcoming Premier12 tournament. The tournament consists of the top 12 teams in the world rankings. The group phase will take place from Nov. 2-5 in Mexico and the final round will be in Tokyo from Nov. 11-16.
Olympic qualifying is complicated with some teams potentially getting as many as three chances to qualify, but if the U.S. is the top finisher among the seven Americas teams in the tournament, they will book a place in the Olympics. If they don’t secure an Olympic spot in November, the next qualifying tournament will take place in March.
This collection of players is comprised of those not on MLB 40-man rosters. Vaughn and Johnson both have USA Baseball experience. Johnson was on the 2016 collegiate national team while Vaughn was on that team a year later.
Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft, is one of the top prospects in the White Sox system. MLB Pipeline ranks him third in the system and No. 21 in baseball. The White Sox aggressively pushed him through three levels of the minors after he got drafted, culminating in a 29-game stint with Single A Winston-Salem.
Vaughn could start next season in Double-A and, if everything lines up perfectly for him, he could even make the White Sox roster sometime in 2020. This tournament provides solid competition for him during his first offseason as a professional.
Johnson isn’t as highly regarded as Vaughn as a prospect, but he remains an interesting case. The right-handed reliever is Pipeline’s 19th-best White Sox prospect. He missed the first two and a half months of 2019 due to a lat strain and finished the year with a solid stint in Double-A Birmingham.
Johnson struck out 23 against six walks and 10 hits in 18 1/3 innings for Birmingham. The White Sox sent him to the Arizona Fall League, which is currently ongoing, to get him more innings. Johnson’s stint in the AFL has been mostly productive. He has allowed just one run, which came in a relief appearance yesterday, in 6 1/3 innings with one strikeout and four walks.
Congratulations @TyJohnson_21 on being selected to the USA Baseball roster for the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier 12 team! The team’s first tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico is the first opportunity for Team USA to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games🥇 pic.twitter.com/8P7dYSCsAC— Birmingham Barons (@BhamBarons) October 10, 2019
An interesting note on the Olympic qualifying team is that Joe Girardi is the team’s manager. The other Chicago baseball team interviewed him for their managerial opening on Wednesday.