Andrew Vaughn was carted off the field at Camelback Ranch yesterday after making a diving catch in right field. The Chicago White Sox announced after the game that Vaughn was experiencing right hip discomfort. Today's update provides further clarity as Vaughn has been diagnosed with a right hip pointer injury. He is expected to miss up to two weeks.
Vaughn -- a first baseman -- is being tasked with playing right field in an effort to have the best group of Sox hitters in the lineup. It appeared as though he got a late jump on a ball that was hit toward right-center field. He got up gingerly under his own power but was eventually carted off the field.
The White Sox selected Vaughn in the 2019 MLB Draft. He attended the University of California, where he starred at first base. Considered to be the best hitter in the draft, the White Sox could not pass up the opportunity to draft the Golden Spikes Award winner. The prestigious award given to the best amateur player in the US includes 10 Hall of Famers and seven No. 1 overall picks.
A Bright Future
Andrew Vaughn would seemingly be the Chicago White Sox heir apparent to Jose Abreu at first base. He would be only the fourth mainstay at the position in the last 30-plus years, following in the footsteps of franchise legends in Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko, and Jose Abreu. That's a pedigree he’s well suited for given his success as an amateur.
However, the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign robbed Vaughn of a full season in the minors. He was expected to make the team out of Spring Training in 2021 despite never playing above High-A ball. Vaughn did in fact make the team but primarily played left field after an Eloy Jimenez Spring Training injury warranted a need at the position. He performed admirably considering it was his first time playing left field -- and doing so at the major league level.
This offseason, the White Sox front office wasted no time over-staffing the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel’s $16 million option was exercised, Kendall Graveman was signed to a three-year, $24 million deal, and -- following the conclusion of the owners' lockout -- signed Joe Kelly to a three-year, $25.5 million contract. The over-inventory in relief pitching leaves the team thin elsewhere, most notably at right field, backup catcher, and the back end of the rotation.
Consequentially, the White Sox have once again asked Vaughn to play a position he’s never played before. This time, it's right field. Doing so was in an effort to put forth the best possible lineup of hitters. Vaughn would play right field while left-handed slugger Gavin Sheets saw time at DH.
Adam Engel and Leury Garcia are likely choices in right field for the immediate future. Engel has avoided arbitration while Garcia signed a three-year deal early in free agency. This could also open the door for longtime White Sox minor leaguer Micker Adolfo or newly acquired Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes. There are a few free agents available, most notably Michael Conforto. It is unclear at this point if the team intends to add via free agency.
In conclusion, the White Sox had viable options in Adam Engel and Leury Garcia to man right field. They chose to put Andrew Vaughn in right field -- much like they did with him last year in left field -- in order to maximize their offensive potential. If surrounding Luis Robert with below-average corner outfielders wasn’t bad enough, this plan to put one in right field has backfired due to injury.
Now, the White Sox are in a very precarious position in regards to right field resulting from the mishandling of their first baseman of the future.