Cory Vaughn: Time For A Promotion

Comparatively, last night was a rough night at the plate for Cory Vaughn of the Savannah Sand Gnats.  He went 0-2 , dropping his batting average to .344.  The hitless night also dropped his slugging percentage to a mere .496.  Of course, Vaughn managed to draw three walks (and swipe a bag), raising his on-base percentage to .485, tops in the SAL.  So basically, almost every other time Vaughn steps up to the plate, he will reach base.  In addition, he’s batting an absurd .400/.571/.582 in the month of May.  It might be time for a promotion.

Vaughn, the son of former major league outfielder Greg Vaughn and student of the legendary Tony Gwynn, only has 169 plate appearances in Savannah after spending last season at short-season Brooklyn.  However, given how well he has performed at each level, a promotion to high-A St. Lucie isn’t out of the question.  In rookie ball last year, Vaughn hit .307/.396/.557, leading the New York-Penn League in both slugging percentage and OPS.  He also smashed 14 homers, good for second in the league, while stealing 12 bases in 17 chances.

At the age of 22, the 2010 fourth round draft pick plays outfield (all three positions) and occasionally serves as the DH for the Sand Gnats, where he is hitting an aforementioned .344/.485/.496, with three homers and six steals in ten opportunities.  The lack of long balls is a little puzzling, given how many he hit last year, but he’s still smacked 11 doubles, and two of his home runs have come in the past few days.  I’m not concerned about his current low homer total-they will come because Vaughn has too much power not to hit home runs.

One concern about Vaughn is his strikeouts.  Last season, he fanned 63 times in 313 PA, 20.1% of the time.  This season, he’s struck out 35 times, a rate of 20.7%.  It would be encouraging to see that rate decrease as time goes on, which would mean more contact at the plate and perhaps more home runs.  One thing seems to be true: he’s not striking out because he doesn’t have an eye for the strike zone.  In 2010, he drew 34 walks; this season, he already has 26.

To his credit, Sandy Alderson has demonstrated that he’s not going to push talent too quickly in the system.  He’s being patient with Matt Harvey and only promoted Jeurys Familia when he was ready.  That being said, given his age and stats, I can see Vaughn making the leap to St. Lucie some time in the next month, if not sooner.

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