“Hitting with short arms” isn’t a phrase that Hawk Harrelson rode to a Frick Award, as it’s neither homerlicious nor vulgarly charming. However, he was successful enough in emphasizing the ability to get the barrel on inside pitches that I hear his voice whenever I see for myself a great piece of hitting with short arms.
Take Andrew Vaughn, who hit his first spring training homer (and second overall, corrected) by taking Kohei Arihara deep in the first inning of Tuesday’s 5-5 tie with the Texas Rangers.
Without publicly available velocity, and with Arihara being new to Major League Baseball after making his mark as an NPB star, it’s hard to know exactly what Vaughn turned around. The combination of his scouting report and the catcher’s target suggests it’s a wayward low-90s sinker.
Arihara located it poorly, but it still probably shouldn’t have ended up over the fence, even adjusting for spring training readiness and atmosphere. Get a load of the short arms on display:
I’d hoped to see Vaughn do a little damage to the pull field this spring, because the DH role requires it. Vaughn’s previous displays against MLB competition showed that he had the strike zone judgment and the ability to battle, but turning around hittable pitches is what opens the spigot on the walk column. Zack Collins is there to tell you that hitters can’t subsist on eye alone.
Here’s some of that damage for you, and maybe on a pitch the average MLB hitter couldn’t drive. He later drew a walk, giving him three of those over his first two spring games. Throw in his work during last summer, and he’s already earned José Abreu’s endorsement.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that he’s ready to play in the Majors,” Abreu said of Vaughn through interpreter Billy Russo. “I’ve been impressed with him since I saw him last summer in Summer Camp. When I saw him there, just the way that he worked, just the way that he handled himself, I was impressed. He had a lot of talent.”
Plenty of humbling opportunities remain since Cactus League play is only three games old. It’d sure be great if he could keep any struggles contained, though, because while the White Sox have no other compelling options for the plate appearances, Vaughn would have no other helpful place to play come April.
Also on Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced that the start of the Triple-A season will be delayed a month. This is ultimately good news for Triple-A organizations, because Baseball America’s reporting suggests that most minor league teams prefer a later start to a severely limited first month.
In their place, teams would restore the alternate training site setup for the first month, and perhaps beyond. The alternate training sites are superior for short-term roster patches, because they’re in close geographical proximity to teams that oversee their COVID-19 protocols.
Vaughn apparently made enough progress in Schaumburg for the White Sox to be surprisingly comfortable rolling with him in 2021, so a return assignment might not be useless, but Jeff Passan says the sites are less likely to be used for developmental purposes this time around.
The number of players at each alternate site is unclear, but sources expect the sites to house about two dozen players — a typical Triple-A roster. Last year, with a finite number of players allowed at alternate sites, teams opted for a mixture of major league-ready players and prospects whom they didn’t want to lose a year of development not playing.
This incarnation of the alt site is likelier to skew older — major league veterans and ascendant prospects who are on the cusp of the major leagues. Lower-level minor league players plan to report to spring training toward the end of March, after major league teams have vacated the facilities, and will prepare for their seasons in Arizona and Florida.
As long as Vaughn looks good for it, it’s hard to imagine he starts the season anywhere but Anaheim. And as long as the Sox keep open the option of reassigning him to Charlotte or Birmingham if MLB pitching proves to be a little too much too soon, it’s hard to argue against it. “Andrew Vaughn, White Sox DH” is apparently the best of a bunch of uninspiring options at the moment. The hope is he’ll keep flinging inside fastballs over the left field wall, which would make him an inspired choice.
That swing GIF is almost pornographic.
It was amazing. Beautiful.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the Sox take a shot at Yoenis Cespedes, since they were one of the few AL teams at his audition yesterday. I’m sure he can be had on a low $$$ contract with plenty of incentives. If he doesnt work, then there is no real financial loss.
Maybe if he’s willing to sit in Schaumburg just in case injury or level of competition is too much for Vaughn. I wouldn’t add him with any opening day roster hopes or expectations. Just don’t think we need the shadow of Cespedes interfering with Vaughn.
If he’s healthy enough to play the field, I’d take him in right over Eaton most days.
That’s a big if. Citi Field is the closest MLB park to me, but I have not seen Cespedes play in person since 2016 due to his cavalcade of injuries.
Oh hell yeah… a few years too late, but yes, I’d like that.
Plus, they already have his half-brother, so he should come at an even greater discount, just like Machado did.
Abreu’s assessment is a win for the front office. Nightengale would have pitched it if he had thought of it.
If he does well, then that is a defensible argument as to why they didn’t go buy one.
If he fails, then it will be either his fault or the pandemics’ fault.
Either way, another cost-saving win for the Chicago Cost-cutters.
“Take Andrew Vaughn, who hit his first career spring training homer”
Didn’t Vaughn hit a couple dingers in spring training last year before it got shut down? I’m almost certain he did.
mlb.com shows he hit 1 home run in spring training 2020
In my defense, February 2020 was eight years ago.
And it was a hanger. This one was more impressive.
I was at that game last year. Wish I could share a picture of Vaughn’s pic on the scoreboard – so funny and so creepy. Yermin also hit one – can’t wait to see them again in a couple weeks!
The Sox seem to be (finally) jumping on a lot of the developmental trends and using more data earlier in player’s careers. One trend that they’ve seemingly shied away from for whatever reason is emphasizing positional versatility. You see it all the time with guys coming up now where they have experience at 3-4 positions in the minors and it gives the team a lot more flexibility to deploy them when they reach the majors. And it’s not just the tweeners, it’s legit top-end prospects as well.
Vaughn will get almost all of his value from producing with his bat, I don’t have much doubt about that. But he would be be so much more useful to this team if he could play LF, RF, or even 3B at a somewhat competent “not a liability to himself of others” level (more than Eloy can say). I know they’ve done a little bit of this with him, but I don’t see why you would stick him at DH for a spring training game instead of trying to see how he looks at some other position.
It’s a minor gripe, maybe a dumb one. But we’ve already seen the Sox limit themselves in the types of additions they are willing to pursue based on the limited positional versatility of the players on the roster. I’d like to see them make some kind of effort to improve this going forward.
He’s a 30 runner according to scouting reports. For him, specifically, I’m not sure dabbling in positional versatility is worth the injury risk.
If the testimonials of players are to be believed, DH is a unique position with its own kind of rhythm that takes some getting used to. It’s probably good for Vaughn to get used to that rhythm and, especially, to keep his mind on hitting and not learning a new position.
That said, I wouldn’t mind them tossing him out at 1B and LF a few times just to see what happens. Even if he was Eloy-esque in LF, that’d be a nice tool to keep in the shed.
The Sox have done a good job working with middle infield types and getting a rotation of them through various positions. Overall, shortstops are worth more in a trade than a second baseman so there’s a method to the madness.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. Usually, it works to have flexibility down in difficulty. For example, the catchers at Charlotte in 2019 were working in other positions (Collins at 1B, Mercedes at OF and 3B(?)) because they aren’t great catchers. Moving up from 1B isn’t usually something that’s done.
Obviously, the broadcasts have been talking about Sheets playing some outfield so it can be done. Sheets, however, has really no choice since he’s a left handed throwing first baseman and he’s behind Abreu and Vaughn. The only way he’ll see the majors is on another team or in another position.
I don’t know that I agree that the White Sox have really built good depth in the middle infield. They’re pretty decent at the top with Anderson and Madrigal, but there’s a SIGNIFICANT drop-off from them to their immediate backups (Leury and Mendick, who are good for backup duty but will not look good pressed into regular action), and the only prospect who seems even REMOTELY ready to contribute at those positions is Yolbert Sanchez, and that’s highly debatable. If Anderson or Madrigal suffers a bad injury, the best we can probably expect is something like Yolmer but without the elite defense.
Mendick was a Gold Glove finalist…