2020 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Profiles: Andrew Vaughn needs to hit, and we expect he will


The thing about first base-only prospects is, they really need to hit to justify a lofty ranking, because pretty much all of their value is going to come from their bat. That Andrew Vaughn was the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft and is a consensus top-35 prospect in the game heading into 2020 tells you just how high expectations are for his bat, and we could see him ready for the majors by this time next year. 

Numbers to Know

  • Date of Birth: 4/3/1999
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 214 lb
  • Prospect Ranks: No. 30 at Baseball America, No. 16 at MLB Pipeline, No. 31 at Baseball Prospectus
  • Scott White’s Rank: No. 12 Fantasy prospect
  • 2019: (Rk, A, A+) .278 BA (205 AB), 6 HR, .832 OPS, 30 BB, 38 K

Known Injury History

n/a

Strengths

Vaughn was arguably the best hitter in college during his time at Cal, hitting .389 with 38 homers in just 106 games. He walked 104 times to just 51 strikeouts, and the plate discipline followed him to his first taste of professional ball in an aggressive assignment that led all the way to High-A. He didn’t crush the ball, but he struck out just 15.5% of the time in his pro debut, while walking 12.2% of the time. That he had that kind of approach even when he wasn’t hitting as well as expected seems to be a good sign. Vaughn has a plus hit and power tool, and that should carry the profile.

Concerns

We don’t care much if Vaughn isn’t a great defensive player, and it wouldn’t really matter much if he ultimately ended up being primarily a DH with Jose Abreu staying at first. So it all comes down to whether he’ll hit, and there really isn’t much doubt of that. The problem is, what if he’s just a .275 hitter with 25 homers? That’s not a bad player — especially at a rapidly aging and shockingly shallow first base position — but it’s not an impact player. This is the issue with the bat-only profiles — the margin for error is very slim. 

Outside Take

He has a very athletic swing despite being decidedly unathletic in every other way, enabling all fields power and high rates of contact. There’s no margin for error for right-handed hitting first baseman, but if there’s one prospect to be confident in hitting as much as is necessary to profile at first, it’s someone with this combination of visual evaluation and statistical track record. Vaughn’s post-draft TrackMan data is also supportive, and suggests he could be a .300/.400/.500 hitter.” -Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs.com

Fantasy Comparison

On the higher end, you’re hoping for a Freddie Freeman-like outcome, though that’s obviously asking a lot. Still, given the plus-hit-tool-with-power scouting reports, that’s the kind of upside you’re looking at. A more likely outcome is probably something like teammate Jose Abreu with more walks. Abreu has been a consistently good power hitter who runs up strong batting averages and drives in a ton of runs thanks to a more contact-oriented approach than you typically see from most sluggers. Vaughn’s eye at the plate could lead to fewer counting stats thanks to an inflated walk total, but that would actually make him an even better option for H2H points leagues. 

Fantasy Bottom Line

If you’re playing in redraft leagues, you can probably ignore Vaughn, but Edwin Encarnacion’s one-year contract with the White Sox seems perfectly designed to clear a spot for Vaughn in 2021 if he proves worthy of it. For those of you in Dynasty leagues selecting from last year’s draft class, Vaughn should be the first pick, even over Adley Rutschman, and he’ll go right around the turn of the first round in prospect-only drafts.

So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda’s huge breakout last season, and find out.





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