Art Of Hitting With California’s Andrew Vaughn

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

BERKELEY, Calif. — Andrew Vaughn is one of the elite hitters in the history of college baseball.

The first baseman for California was hitting .529 (18-for-34) and belted 7 home runs with 18 RBI and walked 15 times in his first 10 games this season.

In two games against St. Mary’s, he hit 2 home runs in each contest and compiled 9 RBI as he was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of The Week.

One year ago during the 2018 season, he hit .402 with 23 doubles, 14 doubles and 63 RBI over 54 games.

His .402 mark ranked third in Cal single-season history while his 23 home runs equaled the Bears’ single-season record set by Xavier Nady in 1999.

The 6-foot, 214-pound Vaughn, who hits from the right side, won the Golden Spikes Award last season and is expected to be one of the first picks in the 2019 MLB Draft next June.

He was the Pac-12 Player of The Year last season and a Collegiate Baseball All-American.

Vaughn is also a premier defender at first base as he earned 2018 Pac-12 All-Defensive team honors with a .992 fielding percentage (only 4 errors in 497 chances).

Passion To Hit Started Young
Vaughn said he was 3-4 years old when he started learning how to hit from his father Toby.

“I remember my dad coming home from work with his orange shirt and his jeans since he worked for the city of Cotati (California).

“I couldn’t wait until he walked through the door at home (Santa Rosa, Calif.) so I could hit. He would flip balls to me as I hit with a small bat. Then I would hit balls off a tee. We would go at it for hours in the backyard.

“I was involved in organized baseball at a very young age with underhand pitch and hit from the right side. My dad told me that if I ever hit two home runs in a game, I could spin around and hit from the left side. The home run barrier was only 100 feet away defined by cones.

“So for a short period of time, I also hit lefthanded while I was growing up. And I hit two or three home runs from the left side.”

Vaughn said he never pursued being a switch hitter after that point because he did so well from the right side and felt comfortable.

His go to person for hitting help has always been his dad Toby.

“My dad knows my swing better than anybody, and he typically knows what I need to do get back on track. Whenever I am feeling in a funk or a little down, I call him up. He always knows what fine adjustments I should make.

“I might be wrapping my bat a little too much or doing something else, and I wouldn’t necessarily feel it. He knows almost immediately what I need to do to fix the problem. He might even make a video and send it to me to visually show me.

“Then I will typically get in the cage and work on that and be more productive the next day.”

Slowing Pitches Down
Vaughn says to see pitches well, you must have a plan.

“I simply try to slow pitches down by picking out a seam and see it coming toward the strike zone. By doing that, it makes the ball appear to travel slower. It is a technique that has worked well for me.

“Another thing I try to do is keep my eyes level and attempt to stay balanced. If I am balanced like this, it gives me more time to react instead of lunging at the ball which is not productive.

“When I lunge at pitches, the speed of the ball picks up. If a pitcher throws a slider when you lunge at it, you might try to hit this pitch in the dirt.

“Seeing the pitch as long as possible is absolutely crucial so I get the best recognition of the pitch coming. That helps with any pitch. If it is a 2-seam fastball, I can see those two seams or a pitch with one solid seam bearing down on the strike zone. Four-seam fastballs are more solid looking while sliders look like a little dot.

“The best pitchers have great deception in this area. Look at Kevin Abel of Oregon State. I felt he did the best job of doing this last year. He could throw a 4-seam fastball up in the zone and then throw a breaking ball off that. Both pitches had the same spin which is rare. One was just going down while the other was going up.”

The mental area of pitching is also important to Vaughn.

“I take one pitch at a time and try not to focus on results. That is counterproductive in my way of thinking because hitting is filled with great moments but also a lot of failure.

“When I focus on the concept of one pitch at a time, I can mess up on one pitch. But the next pitch I have an opportunity to do something with it to inflict damage. A lot of people take it one game at a time. But I believe that taking it one pitch at a time is even better.”

To read more of this article, purchase the March 22, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the article explains how pitchers try to get him out, why being a student of Barry Bonds helped his hitting and his approach to consistency. In addition, he explains why he hates the term “slump” and what he learned from Major League Manager Dusty Baker, plus more.