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Inbox: Is Vaughn on a fast track to the Majors?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers questions from White Sox fans
@scottmerkin
March 9, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox are approximately two weeks away from the end of Spring Training and 17 days from the start of what they hope will be a memorable 2020 campaign. We are also just nine days from my birthday, but who's really keeping track? It’s March 18,

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox are approximately two weeks away from the end of Spring Training and 17 days from the start of what they hope will be a memorable 2020 campaign. We are also just nine days from my birthday, but who's really keeping track? It’s March 18, just in case you are.

Here’s a look at this week’s White Sox inquiries.

Will the Sox be able to get [Andrew] Vaughn and [Yermin] Mercedes enough at-bats to keep them in the Majors?
-- Gary, Brookfield, Ill., @garyhoyd

Vaughn, the No. 2 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline, has been outstanding both offensively and defensively at first base during his first Spring Training, something mentioned by our own Richard Justice in a recent column. But he won’t be breaking camp with the team. In fact, the team’s top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft might not be with the big league team until 2021. Just let him develop with José Abreu and Edwin Encarnación already in place.

Mercedes has a legitimate chance to earn the 26th roster spot, especially if the White Sox decide to go with a third catcher and give Zack Collins more regular playing time at Triple-A Charlotte. He provides a good spark off the bench offensively in a role figuring to be limited if everyone stays healthy.

Do you think [James] McCann will be [Lucas] Giolito’s personal catcher this year, or do you think the team will want to see how Giolito can do pitching to an even better catcher in [Yasmani] Grandal?
-- Sam, LaGrange Park, Ill., @sam_gutterman

Giolito will be pitching to both catchers during the course of the 2020 season. I don’t envision any sort of personal catcher, even with Giolito throwing every one of his pitches to McCann in 2019 and raving about the work he did with him. I also view the White Sox catching situation as having two talented players in place who are able to connect with the pitchers. It’s a great situation at the big league level, with depth behind them.

Any chance we see Codi Heuer make the big league club out of camp?
-- Meat, Algonquin, Ill., @NickMatysek

Heuer has put his name in play for the Majors in 2020, if it wasn’t there already before Spring Training began. Fellow reliever Evan Marshall mentioned Heuer when talking about individuals who have impressed him during Spring Training, adding he “throws 100 with a slide step every pitch.” Heuer is unlikely to break camp with the team, but he’s part of solid Minor League bullpen depth along with Zack Burdi and Tyler Johnson, both of whom will help this season.

How fast is Michael Kopech throwing right now? Rumors have he’s throwing 97 mph.
-- Danny Boy, Chicago

You’ll get a better look at his velocity when Kopech starts Tuesday, but don’t focus so much on velocity with Kopech -- it’s always going to be there, as he has pointed out. I’m more focused on Kopech going through a normal Spring Training and his process for becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower along the Tommy John rehab trail. He won’t break camp with the team, but he will be a Major League asset in 2020 soon enough (early May).

Does Adam Engel make the team as the fourth outfielder/defensive specialist?
-- Mike, Chicago

Yes, but Engel has looked good beyond his Gold Glove defensive capabilities. Nomar Mazara is viewed as an everyday player in right field, but the right-handed hitting Engel should get at-bats against some tougher lefties with Leury Garcia featured more at second base.

How likely is it that Luis Robert will start the season with the Major League club?
-- Josh, Huntington, W.Va

If there’s a mathematical number above 100 percent certainty, then go with that one. Robert has shown during Spring Training what everyone has expected of him: the making of a five-tool star, a true rebuild fulcrum. Business clearly will pick up once the regular season begins, but Robert has the right mindset and the right support to handle the pressure.

Better satirical view of everyday life, "Seinfeld" or "South Park"?
-- Dave, Warrenville, Ill., @barstoolWSD

This is one of the most thought-provoking questions ever submitted to the White Sox Inbox. Two of the greatest shows in the history of television, and "South Park" gets the nod for tackling the bigger-picture issues in an often bizarre but utterly hilarious way. In terms of everyday life, "Seinfeld" still holds up as No. 1, even more than two decades later.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.