The White Sox have yet to announce their Opening Day DH for 2021. Fans are slowly piecing together a lineup, knowing Lucas Giolito is taking the mound and assuming most of the 2020 starters are back in the same spot. Think-pieces on who should start are rampant, I even wrote one last month. I predicted Andrew Vaughn then and I’m back to defend that selection. Let’s make the case for Andrew Vaughn on the 2021 White Sox.
Vaughn, who turns 23 just days after Opening Day, has played no higher than Class A Advanced with Winston-Salem Dash in the Carolina League in the summer of 2019 after being selected with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Since 2019, Vaughn has had 245 plate appearances in the Minors.
After losing a minor league season to the pandemic, Vaughn spent time at the White Sox alternative training site during the 2020 season. On September 29, 2020, he was sent back to Winston-Salem Dash before being invited for a non-roster start at first base on February 11, 2021.
2021 White Sox: Is Andrew Vaughn Destined for Greatness?
Vaughn attended the University of California and he had quite the experience playing for the Golden Bears. During his sophomore year, Vaughn was the Collegiate Player of the Year. Vaughn led the Pac-12 with a .402 batting average and finished second with 23 home runs and tied for third with 63 RBIs. The White Sox took notice and signed the first baseman on June 28, 2019. Two Hall of Famers that also happen to be managers within the organization have also noticed the power Vaughn harnesses.
Jim Thome, now Assistant to the General Manager has been impressed by Vaughn as he continues to coach the young player. The feeling seems to be mutual. “He’s a very awesome man,” said Vaughn of Thome. “And so knowledgeable about the game and drills he likes to do. We were working on a drill that he liked when he was with the Indians. Just the way he goes about it, it lifts you, gives you that positive energy that is pretty special.”
White Sox manager Tony La Russa has not said Vaughn will have a spot on the opening day roster, and the White Sox management is big on the time served method. However, La Russa had nothing but good things to say about Vaughn.
“He does things that really good hitters do,” said La Russa of Vaughn. “He can handle different pitches, he really competes, never throws an at-bat away, uses the whole field and he’s got thump. He hasn’t made the club yet, but he’s making a very good impression,” La Russa said.
“You’ve got to be optimistic about him hitting in the big leagues,” he said. “A big advantage for him will be the depth of the lineup. Some teams are hurting for offense, and there’s a lot of extra pressure. But here, he’s just got to complement what’s already there.”
Vaughn proceeded to blast a 429-foot home run on March 18, his second home run since arriving in Glendale, Arizona for spring training. As of right now, Vaughn has a .293 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, and a .887 OPS through 17 games. The stats are slightly better than 2020 but have stayed consistent. He is also ranked as the best prospect at his position by MLB.com and the 14th best prospect overall.
To even the untrained eye, Vaughn looks ready. He is feeling confident, working hard, and is doing everything he can to get the start.
“I feel comfortable at the plate. I’m seeing the ball well and it’s just a challenge every time you go up there. It’s you versus the pitcher and you have to try to get your job done.”
I hate the term sample size, but that’s all we’ve seen so far. However, Vaughn’s collegiate success has translated on the field during spring training. Perhaps the White Sox will foolishly decide that he needs to have more time served under his belt and ship him off to Charlotte for a month. Maybe we’ll be able to see him dominate starting in May, and I will still be just as happy.
However, Chicago does not have a dependable DH, and Nick Madrigal, as much as I love him, is not the right solution for the looming issue. Just last year the White Sox DH position only put out a .157/.250/.377 slash line with 10 home runs and 19 RBIs. Vaughn is capable of improving that for the White Sox. Why not start that record early by putting him on the plane to Anaheim for Opening Day? Do the right thing, White Sox. Vaughn was born ready.
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