Live Looks: Andrew Vaughn, NCAA Superstar

Don’t you just love it when the eye test on a player lines up perfectly with his statistics? That was my experience on Monday watching Cal Berkeley first baseman Andrew Vaughn hammer BYU at the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium in Arizona. Starting off with a bomb in the first inning, Vaughn showcased the selectivity, hit tool, and all fields power that make him a potential top five pick in June’s MLB draft.

You can make a good argument that Vaughn would have been a top 6 or 7 pick in last year’s draft had he been eligible. The right-handed hitter won the 2018 Golden Spikes Award as a sophomore, batting .402 with an unbelievable .531 OBP and .819 SLG (not a misprint!) to lead D1 baseball in all slash line categories. In 54 games, he drew 44 walks and 12 HBP to only 18 strikeouts, hammering 23 homers and 14 doubles. Vaughn’s great eye sets up his in-game power—he did not swing at a single pitch on Monday that wasn’t in his wheelhouse. Listed at 5’11”, 208 lbs, this is a strong kid, and he showed off in the first inning by launching a 2-1 fastball out at least 375 feet to right field.

The whole at bat hinged on Vaughn taking a 1-0 fastball for a strike over the middle of the plate but down in the zone. He then laid off a 1-1 just below the zone, and on 2-1 got a fastball belt-high—trusting his hands and bat speed, Vaughn let the ball travel before unloading the other way.

Vaughn walked his next time up, as BYU’s starter wanted nothing to do with him. In his third plate appearance, he laid off a 2-1 breaking ball away and then made good contact on a fat 2-2 pitch, flying out to center field just short of the warning track.

#20 worked a full-count walk in his 4th plate appearance, laying off borderline strikes that might well have been weak grounders had he swung. To cap off a big day, he hit a line drive single up the middle his last time at the plate.

Given the recognition Andrew Vaughn received last year, we all know that he is one of the players to watch leading up to the draft. Now having seen him live, I can say that his abilities live up to the hype: this is a strong hitter with great hand-eye, a balanced, rhythmic swing, all fields power, and an all-world approach. He’s already far surpassed proving himself at the NCAA level, but it will be exciting to see how Vaughn performs against marquee pitching this season in advance of draft day, June 3.

Follow Jacob on Twitter @thereeljz