Andrew Vaughn Takes A Big Step Forward
For California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, the future is bright. However, he isn’t focused on it at all.
Instead, he is more concerned with enjoying what he called “one of the better summers” of his life.
The Santa Rosa, Calif., native put together an incredible 2018 season, hitting .402/.531/.819 with 23 HRs and 63 RBI, earning various honors, including the Pac-12 Player of the Year. His greatest honor, however, was winning the 2018 Golden Spikes award.
“For me, it was probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had, getting such a prestigious award, and I’m just so grateful for it,” Vaughn said. “Being grouped in with a group of guys like Posey, Strasburg, Harper, it’s unimaginable. I’m still pretty shocked about it.”
The 5-foot-11, righthanded batter began his college career with a bang, winning Pac-12 freshman of the year in 2017 while hitting 12 HRs with a .349 batting average. Although he had a stellar freshman season, Vaughn worked hard in the offseason to further improve his game, refining his approach at the plate.
“I just work hard as hard as I can when I’m in the off-season and hitting in the cage, just taking every rep like they all count, like their game-like,” Vaughn said. “So I stay in that situation as much I can, and hope it translates to the games.”
The main improvement that Vaughn made to his approach was becoming less aggressive at the plate. He said that he chased pitches out of the strike zone too often his freshman year, and he wanted a more mature approach.
Vaughn’s efforts have paid off.
The rising junior’s numbers were up across the board in 2018, enjoying an increase in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, and runs batted in. However, Vaughn’s most remarkable improvement may have been his walk to strikeout ratio. After only drawing 19 walks in 2017, Vaughn walked 44 times in 2018 while cutting his strikeouts down from 24 to 18.
Vaughn said all of his coaches have helped him improve, but he said his hitting coach Pat Shine has had a profound impact on his performance at the plate.
“My hitting coach, Pat Shine, was around a big league clubhouse for the last couple of years, so I really picked his brain and learned a couple things from him,” Vaughn said. “And I think they really helped me. I don’t have to go 100 miles per hour all the time, just gotta stay simple and get the job done.”
After his past two seasons of success, his name will certainly be called in the 2019 MLB Draft next June. Despite this, Vaughn said that he hasn’t spent any time thinking about. He’s playing for the College National Team this summer, where he was hitting .237/.333/.342 in mid-July. He hit five home runs in just 14 games with Wareham in the Cape Cod League before joining Team USA.
Vaughn hopes to lead the Golden Bears to the NCAA Tournament, especially considering that Cal hasn’t made it to the tournament since 2015.
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If Southern Miss is to make its first trip to Omaha since 2009, it will be up to the new-look pitching staff coming together to push the Golden Eagles forward.
“I definitely want to help some of the younger guys get acclimated and get ready to play and just show them the ropes,” Vaughn said. “If I fit into that leadership role, then I’d love it and take full responsibility for it, so I’m just looking forward to getting out there in the fall and getting after it with my guys.”
In the meantime, Vaughn is spending his summer playing for the USA Collegiate National Team, and he’s having the time of his life.
“It’s been one of the better summers I’ve ever had,” Vaughn said. “Going to where I am and having the great group of guys up there in the cape and coming here and the guys were just as awesome. We click, and we’re having a great time.”
While Vaughn is enjoying his time with team USA and looking forward to his upcoming season at California, the presence of the MLB Draft still looms. Although he hasn’t spent much time thinking about the draft, Vaughn knows one thing for sure- he will complete his degree at California.
“I would definitely go back to school,” Vaughn said. “I’d make sure that happened because getting my degree from Cal would be the greatest thing. That’s one of my dreams besides playing baseball, getting a degree from there. Just do everything I can to set myself up to be successful.”