CHICAGO -- Andrew Vaughn knocked out 50 home runs over 160 games for the University of California from 2017-19. So there’s certainly plenty of power present for the White Sox top pick from the 2019 Draft and starting left fielder.
It just hasn’t arrived through 80 plate appearances covering his rookie season for the American League Central leaders. But the 23-year-old clearly isn’t thinking about swinging for the fences, as he expressed during a Zoom call on Tuesday.
“I think it will happen eventually. It's not something I'm going out trying to do,” said Vaughn, the White Sox top prospect per MLB Pipeline. “I pride myself on being a hitter first, and I've always said that. That's the biggest part of my game, getting into that groove and just going at it every day.
“I'm just following along with the process. Just having good at-bats, hitting the ball hard, and trying to help this team win anyway I can.”
Vaughn was 12-for-37 with four doubles, two RBIs and four multi-hit performances over his last 11 games, entering Tuesday’s series opener against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. He’s certainly hitting as projected as he continues to learn the nuances of a position on defense where he had three Cactus League games of experience before taking over.
That lack of power is not solely a Vaughn factor. The White Sox have hit just 27 home runs, the lowest total in the AL and third-lowest in the Majors. But they started Tuesday leading the AL in on-base percentage, while ranking third in runs scored and fourth in batting average.
Manager Tony La Russa pointed out the weather hasn’t exactly been home run conducive, with some of the baseballs landing at the warning track usually traveling out on warmer days. The White Sox also are missing to injury two major power sources in Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.
“Obviously you have Andrew and [Leury] García or [Danny] Mendick, these guys, they feature the whole game,” La Russa said. “And power is probably the last thing on their list.
“The important thing is the better the pitching, the tougher it is to get hits for power. You just need to put the ball in play, and get on base, and get him over and in. It’s like a lot of our offense. The majority of our guys know how to take a tough at-bat, whether they are leading off or driving him home.”
Minnesota came into this three-game series trailing the White Sox by seven games, a sizeable difference between the preseason AL Central favorites, even on May 11. But La Russa doesn’t think a series win or even a sweep of the Twins would speak to their early-season demise.
“No, it’s way too early,” La Russa said. “Whatever the results, there’s so much time to make up for it. Right now, we are both trying to accumulate wins. The way you accumulate is to concentrate on the series you are playing.
“Whichever way this series goes, it doesn’t say anything about what’s going to happen in the second half of the season. Just right now we have something going and the Twins are in our way.”
The White Sox have put together one winning season series vs. the Twins since 2013, finishing with a 12-7 head-to-head mark in 2016.
Crowds at Guaranteed Rate Field hopefully will increase soon with a change in COVID-19 protocols. But La Russa has noticed the current intense fan support, topping out now in the 9,400 range at the ballpark.
“Not only I've noticed it, but the guys have mentioned it,” La Russa said. “It's a very attractive club. The pitchers are attractive, position players, everybody's got something the fans like about them. We've got a real shot to be entertaining and competitive and contend all summer.”
Third to first
• José Abreu’s 81 career RBIs against the Twins are his second-most vs. any opponent, trailing his 94 RBIs against Detroit.
• The White Sox scored nine runs and recorded 10-plus hits in three games during their recently completed 4-1 road trip to Cincinnati and Kansas City.
They said it
“I hit it good. I know the ballpark is big, had a little wind helping it, but you just never know. Sometimes you do know when you get it, but I definitely didn't get all of it. I was happy to get on base, score some runs. That was a good thing.” -- Vaughn, on just missing his first career home run in the first inning Saturday at Kauffman Stadium