PHOENIX — Thehoped to lock up prized prospect Andrew Vaughn to a long-term contract before he makes his major-league debut. Talks have cooled. The affection and enthusiasm for the first baseman/DH have not. The refuses to follow other teams and play the service-time manipulation game by keeping Vaughn in the minors. Barring injury, Vaughn is expected to be on their opening-day roster as the primary DH. Vaughn, 22, who has never played above Class A, has dazzled the all spring, and so it seems the only uncertainty remaining is the exact day the White Sox tell him he’s made the team.
“We’d like to have that message coming from the manager,” White Sox vice president Ken Williams says, “and not me throughTony La Russa, who made his major-league managerial debut with the 19 years before Vaughn was born, heard nothing but praise from the front office to the clubhouse attendants about Vaughn since the day he returned to the White Sox. “They all raved about him,” La Russa said, “and now I’m raving about him. I know he’s never played higher than whatever it is (high-Class A Winston-Salem), but he takes excellent at-bats and makes fantastic adjustments. He’s got all of the qualities.
“He does things that excellent hitters do. He can handle pitches, competes, never throws an at-bat away, and uses the whole field. And he’s got thump.” “He hasn’t made the club yet,” La Russa said, “but he’s making an excellent impression.” Vaughn indeed has April 1 noted on his calendar, as that would be the day he makes his major-league debut, with the the season at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, 454 miles from his hometown of Santa Rosa, California. Vaughn and players walk to the field before a spring training game.
“It crosses your mind for sure,” Vaughn told integral part of the middle of their lineup for a long time. They believe he’ll be a star and have with Vaughn that will cover most of this decade. And if Vaughn doesn’t sign by April 1, the insist that’s fine, too. There will be plenty of time to revisit talks without repercussions by deciding to wait.Sports. “Ever since playing Wiffle ball in your backyard, you dream of being a big-league player, and I’m hopeful of being able to do that. “But my goal isn’t just making the team on the first day. I want it to be where I continue playing daily for many years.” As the White Sox envision it, Vaughn will be an
“We understand the service-time issue that plays here,” Williams said, “but when you’re ready to help the major-league club, there’s a spot for you. We have proven that over and over again. We’re trying to put the best team out there. “I think there is a residual effect if you. As a former player, maybe I’m a little more sensitive to it than others. If you do that, the player and the agent any time soon. Should you want to negotiate a contract down the line, or the guy becomes a free agent, I think that works against you.”
Indeed, George Springer never forgot that the Houston Astros kept him in the minors towhen he should have been on the big-league team, and when he became a free agent last winter, bolted for the Toronto Blue Jays. The baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Chicago Cubs on Kris Bryant’s behalf for delaying his career in 2015. He’ll be a free agent this winter instead of . “I’m not worrying about anything,” Vaughn said. “I’m just having a blast playing baseball again, being around these guys, with a culture that’s all about winning.”
Vaughn attended Cal-Berkeley and has just 245 plate appearances in the. Last summer, he worked out at the alternate camp in Schaumburg, Illinois. While it would have helped to play an entire minor-league season if not for the , Vaughn said he believes the experience enhanced his development. “I thought it was beneficial,” Vaughn said. “We got to every day. Sometimes, you’d get six, seven, eight, or nine at-bats daily. It helped to see upper-echelon arms every day.” Vaughn is hitting .293 this with a double, triple, and two homers. He has a .392 on-base percentage, a .489 slugging percentage, and a .881 OPS, with nearly as many walks (7) as strikeouts (9).
Vaughn is not only playing like a veteran; he’s acting like one too. “I am not surprised what he’s doing,” Williams said. “Since we started scouting Andrew Vaughn at Cal and then got him into our system, at the alternate site, and now in spring training, he just gives you one of the most consistent approaches I’ve don’t know his spring training numbers, but I know how many consistent at-bats he’s had. He’s probably had the most consistent at-bats in our camp. He has such attention to detail, what the pitchers’ game plan is, what they plan to do with him, and it’s only going to get better.”. “I
It’s unfair, La Russa says, to start comparing him to other rookies who created this kind of first impression in spring. Still, Vaughn is certainly conversing with and Mark McGwire under La Russa’s watch. “He’s an incredible young talent,” outfielder Adam Engel said. “One of the purest hitters I’ve ever seen. He probably has a better (plate) rhythm than anyone I’ve ever seen, especially at his age. It’s so smooth and always timed up. Man, this guy is getting the best swing every single time. “He’s a very mature player, a very mature hitter. It doesn’t seem like the stage is that big. He’s impressed, everybody.”
The most significant adjustment for Vaughn will be learning to handle being a primary DH. He’s a solid defensive first baseman, but first base belongs to reigning MVP Jose Abreu. The hope is for Vaughn toaround two days a week, and he has also worked out this spring in the outfield and at third base. “It’s always a concern because you look at a lot of veteran guys from the National League that go into that DH role in the American League,” Williams said, “and struggle with it. We are aware of that. Tony is very aware of that. So we’re fortunate we have a , ‘Hey, this guy is pretty good over at the first base. the ‘ ”
Vaughn said he’s preparing himself for any role, anddaily with Hall of Famer Jim Thome, a White Sox assistant, is a privilege, helping him understand the nuances of life as a DH. Thome, in turn, calls Vaughn an “awesome kid” and “loves his work ethic.” Indeed, the could use him. Their DH spot combined for a slash line of .157/.250/.377 . “It’s like learning a new position,” Vaughn said. “You can’t just hit, sit on the bench for eight batters, get cold, and not get ready. You must stretch, stay warm, and be mentally focused and prepared.” Chicago can be cold in April. But it will feel much warmer than starting the year in any minor-league city. Vaughn has proven this spring that he belongs in the leagues. He knows it. The know it. And soon, all of baseball will know it. “He is,” La Russa said, “the real deal.”