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Prospect Andrew Vaughn gets vote of confidence for White Sox’ DH role

The team has not filled its open designated hitter slot with an offseason acquisition. Top prospect Vaughn could get the job.

Top prospect Andrew Vaughn could get the nod as the White Sox’ designated hitter.
Top prospect Andrew Vaughn could get the nod as the White Sox’ designated hitter.
John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

In one of his first declarations under his new title of White Sox assistant general manager/player development, Chris Getz gave a strong indication that prospect Andrew Vaughn will be ready to handle designated hitter duty as soon as the first month of the season.

Getz, the White Sox’ director of player development the last four seasons, was promoted to his new title when coaching and staff assignments throughout the farm system were announced Wednesday. Vaughn is the Sox’ top-rated prospect and is ranked No. 14 in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

“I would imagine that [with] the amount of success he’s had and probably will have in spring training, that he’ll be in position to be that DH or be on the major-league club,” Getz said. “I would certainly share . . . that he is ready to help this team.”

With two weeks before spring training, the Sox haven’t shored up the DH slot, and general manager Rick Hahn suggested last month that closer Liam Hendriks might be their last significant offseason acquisition. Vaughn hasn’t played above Class A but has impressed in the minors and while facing major-league or Class AAA-caliber pitching in spring training and 2020 summer camps at Guaranteed Rate Field and Schaumburg with “a very sound approach at the plate, and we feel that’s going to translate very well in the big leagues when he’s asked to perform at that level,” Getz said, offering the team’s latest vote of confidence for the 22-year-old first baseman.

As for player-development staff assignments, Wes Helms (Class AAA Charlotte), Justin Jirschele (Class AA Birmingham), Ryan Newman (advanced Class A Winston-Salem) and Guillermo Quiroz (Class A Kannapolis) are the Sox’ 2021 managers.

Kenny Williams Jr. was promoted from a scouting role to assistant director of player development. Former Sox pitcher Donnie Veal, who had been scouting for the Yankees, was named rehab pitching coach, replacing Steve McCatty.

While some organizations were more affected by the reorganization of the minor leagues, the Sox will remain relatively stable, giving player-development-license invitations to Charlotte, Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis. Because of the pandemic, there was no minor-league baseball in 2020.

“There is a structure in place, certainly with the caveat that it could be changing, just the world that we’re living in,” Getz said. “But we’re planning for an April spring training for our minor-league players and hopeful for a mid-May Opening Day for our season at the minor-league level at the affiliates.”