With the third pick in the MLB Draft on Monday, the White Sox selected Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn, a lights-out hitter, the best player available and one who also happens to fit a potential need.
A 6-foot, 214-pound junior who batted .381 with 15 home runs, 50 RBI and a .544 on-base percentage this season, Vaughn is widely considered the best all-around hitter in the draft, an advanced, high-average batter who can slug. He struck out only 74 times and walked 121 times in three seasons.
How good is he? So good that being a right-handed, relatively short first baseman was not a deterrent for draft analysts or the Sox. There’s this lofty assessment from MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes: “Vaughn is the best college hitter I’ve seen in all my years of broadcasting.”
A self-described “baseball rat,” Vaughn says he’s a “see the ball, hit the ball” kind of hitter, but scouting director Nick Hostetler said he’s more than a grip-it-and-rip-it swinger. The Sox are impressed with Vaughn’s intelligence and feel for the nuances of hitting.
“I love to hit; that’s my thing,” Vaughn said. “I love to come out to the ballyard every day and take on the best pitchers possible. I’m very excited to do that and hopefully get to the next level facing the best.”
The Sox have future pieces in place projecting all around the diamond, but none standing out at first base, where Jose Abreu is 32 and in the last year of his contract.
“The fact it might fill a void in the future here was an added bonus,” Hostetler said.
How good is he? Byrnes, comparing Vaughn’s swing to Josh Donaldson’s, said he is “ready to hit in the big leagues right now.”
Right now is too soon, although Hostetler said Vaughn could advance fast.
“He’s probably one of the guys that a lot of people would say could be the ‘quickest to the big leagues,’ ’’ Hostetler said.
A Santa Rosa, California, native, Vaughn was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, then hit .402 with 23 homers as a sophomore, winning the Golden Spikes Award for the best amateur player in the country that year. He is a candidate once again this year after finishing the regular season ranked third in on-base percentage, 14th in slugging (.728) and eighth in walks (58).
The Orioles selected Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first pick, and the Royals took shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. of Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School with the No. 2 pick, as most forecasts predicted.
In the second round, the Sox took right-hander Matthew Thompson of Cypress Ranch High School in Texas.
Cary-Grove right-hander Quinn Priester was selected 18th overall by the Pirates.
NOTE: Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito was named American League Pitcher of the Month for May and AL Player of the Week. Giolito went 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 41„ innings covering six starts in May, and he picked up his seventh and eighth wins against the Royals and Indians last week while posting a 1.76 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15„ innings.
† Outfielder Jon Jay, who hasn’t played this season because of a groin injury suffered during spring training, began a rehab assignment Monday night with Class AA Birmingham.