Is Andrew Vaughn ready for primetime?
The White Sox sure think so.
With a designated hitter not among their offseason acquisitions to this point, Vaughn seems the leading candidate to fill that hole and step into the everyday job on the South Side. Certainly the folks coming up with prospect rankings agree, as he was recently ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the game by The Athletic's Keith Law and the No. 14 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline.
But perfectly valid questions have peppered social media for months, some fans wondering whether Vaughn, who has just 55 professional games on his resume and hasn't played above A-ball, will be able to contribute in an everyday capacity for a White Sox team with World Series aspirations in 2021.
Those questions won't be answered until Vaughn starts getting regular at-bats in Tony La Russa's major league lineups. But the White Sox are confident that Vaughn is ready for such an assignment not even two full years after they made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
"Based on what we've seen with Andrew Vaughn since he's been part of the organization — and I anticipate he's going to carry that same approach that has made him successful not only as an amateur but throughout his time here — I would imagine with the amount of success that he's had and he probably will in spring training, that he'll be in position to be that DH or be on the major league club," White Sox assistant general manager Chris Getz said Wednesday. "He's ready to help this team.
"He was a very advanced hitter coming out of Cal. That was quite obvious right out of the gate. What separates Andrew is his mentality, his makeup, how under control he is in the box, his discipline to sticking with an approach that works for his swing. ... He's got a very sound approach at the plate, and we feel that that's going to translate very well in the big leagues when he's asked to perform at that level."
Indeed, Vaughn's bat has been described as "advanced" since draft night in 2019, and it didn't seem he'd need too much time to further develop that bat in the minor leagues, just as Nick Madrigal was playing big league ball two years after he was drafted. But unlike Madrigal, Vaughn hasn't even played a full season's worth of games in the White Sox organization thanks to the minor league season being wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
So Vaughn could potentially be going from college ball to a chunk of games at Class A Winston-Salem to a season without any games at all to a starting job in the majors for a team chasing a championship in less than two years.
But if the reviews are to be believed — be they from the evaluators or from big league stars like White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito, who called Vaughn "a pain in my ass" after he did some damage against his big league teammates during last year's "Summer Camp" — then Vaughn could soon be the next youngster to make a big-time impact in a potent White Sox lineup.