Nothing makes a bigger influence on the direction and longevity of an organization than drafting well. More-so than acquiring big names in free agency or via trades, drafting and growing home-cooked products has a lasting effect. Players like Andrew Vaughn of UC Berkeley have shown the batting consistency that promotes the positive, long-term influence Major League Baseball clubs are looking for in the draft.
Andrew Vaughn 2019 MLB Draft Profile
Vaughn is one of the best hitters in the 2019 draft. Coming out of UC Berkeley, he is a middle of the order threat especially with men on base. The right-hander played a solid first base for the Bears and has enough arm strength that allowed him to pitch a total of nine innings in his collegiate career. He may be able to play right field but would be a better pick for an American League team where he can be used as a designated hitter further down the line.
He raised eyes last year as he impressed with his bat and started 2019 on a tear. He had seven home runs in his first 10 games. At the time he was batting over .500 and is now one the top draft prospects this year.
Vaughn’s bat is special. He hits for average but makes a habit of finding the outfield alleys and pushing baseballs over the fence. Maybe his biggest strength though is his ability to improve upon what he needs to. The ability to adjust goes a long way in the eyes of MLB clubs. As a freshman, he had an impressive .349 average, but with his lack of speed, he needed to hit for more power.
The next season he had 37 extra-base hits, improving from his previous total of 20. He improved his slugging percentage from .555 to .819 in just one season. This year he leveled it out at .702, proving the sustainability of his production.
The first baseman holds a .376 batting average while reaching base in 53% of his 149 at-bats in 2019. Last year as a sophomore he had a batting average of .402.
Vaughn is an advanced hitter in the batter’s box. In his collegiate career, he struck out just 70 times while picking up 110 free passes. Vaughn, who has driven in 42 runs for the Bears, is not far from being an MLB-caliber hitter.
While being considered for the draft, Vaughn’s biggest weakness is his speed. MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs give every tool of Vaughn’s a grade of 50 or better except his speed, which sits at 30 and 35 respectively. His speed would affect his defense while transitioning to professional baseball, so this can be partly mitigated by being drafted in the American League so he can be used as a designated hitter.
Two MLB players come to mind when studying Vaughn’s skillset. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is a right-handed, power-hitting first baseman who has not just found success in MLB but continues to improve and propel himself into MVP conversations. Maybe less impressive, but just as accurate, C.J. Cron is another comparison. Like Vaughn, Cron struggles to find speed but finds consistency in hitting the baseball for power.
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