Andrew Vaughn: Golden Bear, Golden Spikes, Golden Boy
Growing up with a close-knit family in the heart of Wine Country in Santa Rosa, California, Andrew Vaughn always had one constant in his life; baseball. At a young age, Vaughn was able to walk across the street and play at Mark West Little League with all his life-long friends, making for an easy relationship between him and a pearly white ball with 108 double stitches.
In Little League, Vaughn played shortstop and pitched, as most advanced players of his caliber did growing up. However, once a player starts to move up the ranks to varsity baseball and college, normally they must make a decision; "Do I focus on hitting or pitching?" Vaughn leaned to pitching but the batter's box wouldn't let go of the 5'11" power hitter just yet.
"I predominately pitched when I was a senior in high school. I definitely would have said that I was a better pitcher than my numbers showed hitting that year, but I always loved hitting more and I guess it's worked itself out," Vaughn said.
The University of California noticed what Vaughn could do on the mound and at the plate, so they decided to take a chance on a two-way player that was the 422nd-ranked prospect in the country, according to Perfect Game. This decision landed them a player who now is considered one of the top athletes to ever wear a Golden Bears jersey, of any sport.
"Cal was always kind of a dream school for me so going there was special," Vaughn said. "I was that kid in the hallways in middle school and high school that wore Cal stuff. I just fell in love with the place."
In his freshman season in the Pac-12 in 2017, the two-way player struggled on the mound with a 7.56 ERA through 8.1 innings but was able to find success at the plate. So, with both Vaughn and the coaching staff in agreement, Vaughn decided to put almost all his focus to his time in the right batter's box.
"At the plate, I started off hot early my freshman season and just wanted to stay consistent," Vaughn said. "I didn't really care about the numbers, but I just wanted to go out there and play hard. Just showed up every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, played hard and let the numbers take care of themselves."
The numbers definitely took care of themselves.
Vaughn slashed .349/.414/.555 at the plate, including 12 homers and 55 RBI in 54 games. Those numbers were good enough to earn him Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.
With all eyes now on Vaughn for the 2018 season, the Golden Bears superstar found a way to one-up his remarkable freshman year with the greatest single season in program history.
As a sophomore, Vaughn collected 63 RBI on 23 home runs, including a remarkable .402 batting average. The first baseman also drew 44 walks to help earn a .531 OBP. This historic season by Vaughn earned him the Golden Spikes Award, a prestigious award that is presented to the best amateur baseball player in the United States. Bryce Harper, David Price, Buster Posey, and Kris Bryant are just a few guys of note that have won the Golden Spikes Award.
In his junior season, Vaughn was named first-team All-American for the second straight year after hitting a cool .374 at the plate with 15 homers and 50 RBI.
After three decorative years at the University of California and a 2019 MLB Draft that saw him go third-overall to the Chicago White Sox, it was time for Vaughn to pack his bags and head to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona to start his professional career.
"Once I got to Arizona, I just wanted to get there and get my feet under me," Vaughn said. "I hadn't played in almost a month so just to see live pitching and get ready each day was a nice feeling. And then once I got there, my goal was to hopefully make it to Kannapolis this season. So, getting to play here now is special."
Through 16 games and 57 at-bats in an Intimidators' uniform, Vaughn is batting .281 with one homer and nine RBI, including 12 walks. In his first home game in Kannapolis, Vaughn went 2-for-3 with a homer, single, and two walks.
Although Vaughn understands this is the same game he has played since he can first remember, he also understands that the grind in Minor League Baseball is going to be different than his previous stops.
"It's about falling in love with the grind, getting that routine and knowing what you have to do to get your body in the right position to attack the day," Vaughn said. "I always like telling myself just to be me every day. Whether I go 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, I just want to be the same person every day."
And although it can be tough for a Cali kid to travel across the entire country to North Carolina and put in almost 10 hours a day of work, Vaughn knows that he can always count on his family to make him feel at home when he's nearly 3,000 miles away.
"Play for me. Play for my family. Play to be happy. They always preach those things to me. I'd love to say that I was raised right. My parents did such a great job and I owe everything about who I am on and off the field to them."
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South Atlantic League Stories from July 30, 2019
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