Photo by Robert Edwards/klc photos

Vaughn, Lee Taken in First Round of MLB Draft

June 3, 2019

First baseman Andrew Vaughn, who has been the face of Cal baseball the last three years, is now the property of the Chicago White Sox.

He was the third player selected in Monday’s Major League Draft, following Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, who went No. 1,  and Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr.

Hours later catcher Korey Lee, who usually batted behind Vaughn in the Bears batting order, was taken by the Houston Astros with the 32d and final first-round pick in a move that surprised most experts. Lee was not expected to be picked until the second day. Since the draft began in the 1960s Cal had never had two players chosen in the same first round.

Cal Athletics
Korey Lee was a surprise first-round pick

Vaughn, who won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur player in the country last year and is a finalist again, hit .381 with 15 homers and 50 RBI in 52 games for the Bears this season. Those numbers are down a bit from the .402., 23 and 63 he posted a year ago. Teams pitched around him this season and he impressed the scouts with his discipline and willingness to take the walks and let the other hitters drive in the runs.

He is the highest baseball draft pick in Cal history. Pitcher Brandon Morrow was taken No. 5 by the Mariners in 2006, the previous high.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, honestly. I’m just blown away by it,” Vaughn told MLB Network from his family’s Santa Rosa home.

He echoed that reaction in a conference call with the Bay Area Media an hour later.

“Seeing Adley go first was great, I am pretty good friends with Adley,” Vaughn said. “To hear my name called third was totally unbelievable.”:

Of course, it didn’t take long for pundits to begin chipping away at Vaughn’s credentials, noting that 6-0 is short for a big league first baseman.

Vaughn shrugged it off.  “It puts a little chip on your shoulder,” he said.
I’m not a big guy, obviously, but if I go out and swing the bat like I know how, good things will happen.”

He did say he would be willing to try another position. “I just want to be in the lineup,” he said, and has taken ground balls at third.

“My biggest goal is to be in the lineup,” he said. “Wherever they put me I will play. If they want me to play Left, right, I don’t think they’ll put me in center. I can play third, We’ll just have to see how it works out.”

The current White Sox first baseman is Jose Abreu, who is 32 and probably won’t be around more than another year or two. The team did draft a first baseman, Gavin Sheets out of Wake Forest in the second round in 2017. He is still in the minors and not exactly tearing it up with the bat. He is hitting .247 at AA Birmingham.

Vaughn says he has no idea where his professional career will begin. “It is too early to know that,” he said.

The MLB Network broadcasters praised Vaughn’s batting skills. Commentator Eric Byrnes, the former major league outfielder positively gushed.

“I have been calling college baseball games since 2010 and I can say with great conviction that Andrew Vaughn is the best hitter that I have ever seen in that time,”  Byrnes said. He later added that Vaughn, “has a special sort of swing that you can’t teach. He has an incredible natural ability and he can hit in the big leagues right now.”

Vaughn, heard that along with the rest of the country. “I would love to, to  be honest, “ Vaughn said. “And he played in the big leagues for a long time and has talked to a lot of big leaguers. “It’s very humbling.”

Lee, a junior like Vaughn, hit .338 with 15 homers (same as Vaughn) and 57 RBI. Even with those numbers his being taken in the first round was unexpected. Most pre-draft predictions had him going much lower. According to the Houston Chronicle, Lee was slotted among pre-draft prospects as the No. 119 player by and No. 173 by Baseball America.

Lee was watching the draft in San Jose with family members when he received a phone call from an advisor who told him about the Astros’ interest at No. 32.

“It caught me by surprise at first, and then it was a dream come true when I heard my name get called,” Lee told the Cal media relations department. 

“It says something about Cal baseball,” Lee said of the two first-round picks.  “It puts a good label on Cal baseball and I couldn’t be more thankful to my teammates and coaches for leading the way.”

Neither player figures to go hungry. The slotted salary for the No. 3 pick is $7 million. For No. 32 it’s $2.257 million.





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Vaughn, Lee Taken in First Round of MLB Draft

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