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Cal sophomore Andrew Vaughn wins the Golden Spikes Award—Baseball’s Heisman

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Vaughn was already the first Cal Bear to be named a Golden Spikes finalist

The Golden Spikes award is going to a Golden Bear!

Over the last several weeks, California Golden Bears’ first baseman Andrew Vaughn has received plenty of accolades. Those included the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Rawlings/Perfect Game Player of the Year. It all culminated in today’s announcement that Vaughn was awarded the Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur baseball player in the nation. The other finalists were Kody Clemens (Texas), Casey Mize (Auburn), and Brady Singer (Florida)—considering the fact that the other finalists are two first-round picks in the 2018 MLB Draft (pitchers Mize and Singer with Mize going first overall to the Detroit Tigers) and the first pick of the third round in second baseman Kody (son of Roger) Clemens, this is great company for Vaughn to be in.

This is the first time a Cal player has won the Golden Spikes Award. In Vaughn’s spectacular sophomore campaign, he hit .402 with 23 home runs and 63 runs batted in. Vaughn got on base at a .531 clip and slugged an incredible .819. For context, Barry Bonds only had one major league season with a higher slugging percentage. Vaughn also helped the Bears improve their record to 32–22 in 2018 after they posted a 25–29 mark the previous season. Vaughn will be playing for the USA Collegiate National Team after hitting 5 homers over a short stretch in the Cape Cod League. That was especially impressive because wood bats are required there—and Vaughn’s teammates managed just 4 round trippers combined.

Since 2001, every Golden Spikes winner have made their MLB debut within two years. Vaughn is the first sophomore to win this award since Arkansas Razorbacks’ Andrew Benintendi, now of the Boston Red Sox, won it in 2015. UCLA’s Trevor Bauer is the most recent Pac-12 winner, who won in 2011. Other previous Pac-12 winners includes USC’s Mark Prior in 2001 and Washington’s Tim Lincecum in 2006. Being a not-yet-draft-eligible sophomore, Vaughn will be back in the Cal uniform for the 2019 campaign; this will give Cal fans and other Bay Area baseball enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to see him in action in person from Evans Diamond.

Not a particularly big guy (listed at 5’11” and 208 Lbs) nor the top recruit out of high school (in Santa Rosa, CA), Vaughn found his power after matriculating at Cal. He smashed 12 homers in his freshman year, which tied with then teammate Denis Karas for the Pac-12 lead, and was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. His 23 homers in 2018 tied the Cal Baseball program single-season record with Xavier Nady in 1999.

Congratulations, Andrew! Here’s hoping that the 2019 season is something extra special.