Courtesy Fresno Pacific University Sports Information
FRESNO, CA - The Miami Marlins made Fresno
Pacific catcher Michael Vaughn the team's 14th-round pick on
Tuesday, June 5, the second straight year an FPU player has been
selected on one of the first two days of the MLB draft.
Long recognized for his superior defensive ability and throwing arm, Vaughn made tremendous strides in his hitting this season, leading the Sunbirds in home runs and slugging percentage from the cleanup spot.
Before the draft he was projected as the #25 catcher in the
nation and an 11th-round pick by Baseball America, with
some teams suggesting they would take him as high as rounds
4-6. He would slip to the Marlins in the 14th round as a potential
"They're getting a great defensive catcher who's hitting could end up being his best tool," FPU Head Coach Oscar Hirschkorn said. "He's a guy that could potentially reach the major leagues. His work ethic and character are unquestioned and he plays at a premium position. At that spot I think he's a steal. The fact that he's the first catcher they selected puts him in good position within the organization."
Vaughn spent most of the day at his home in Arizona, nervously waiting for a phone call from one of the many teams who had scouted him. After the 10th round, the Marlins called to reiterate that they were still very interested. In the 14th round they would make him the first catcher on their board and pave the way for Vaughn's lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
"I've always wanted to play professionally," Vaughn said. "It's been a dream of mine ever since I started playing as a kid. I really looked up to my uncle growing up and wanted to follow in his footsteps."
Vaughn's uncle Shawn Gilbert, a fomer FPU coach, had a 17-year professional baseball career that included stints in the big leagues with the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It's a privilege to be joining the Marlins' organization and I'm really excited to get going," Vaughn, who thanked his parents and the FPU coaching staff, said. "I really enjoyed my time at FPU and I'm really thankful I had the opportunity to play there. Coach Hirschkorn showed a lot of trust in me, even when I wasn't hitting well, and he allowed me to get the at-bats I needed to start feeling comfortable and confident at the plate."
As a freshman starter out of Cactus High School in Peoria (AZ), Vaughn was consistently gunning down would-be basestealers while catching an FPU pitching staff that led the league in ERA.
He batted just .190 but put up good power numbers and showed a lot of potential at the plate, including home runs in wins over top rivals California Baptist and Azusa Pacific.
By his sophomore year he was batting cleanup and was crushing
the ball before a midseason injury.
He ended up missing 30 of FPU's 53 games this season due to an injury, otherwise he may have seen his name go off the board as high as the top five rounds. Before the injury he was batting .357 with five home runs and a slugging percentage near .800.
By the end of the season he was back to full health and should
be ready to add to a group of FPU baseball alumni that is quickly
establishing itself as one of the top non-NCAA Division I programs
in putting out pro talent.
Vaughn will join former Sunbirds Chris Schwinden, Jesse Darrah and Andrew Douglas in the minor leagues. Within the last year Schwinden became the first former FPU player to reach the major leagues, being called up numerous times by the New York Mets before being claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Darrah, the highest-drafted player in school history (8th round, 2011), is coming off an 11-strikeout game for single-A South Bend in the Arizona Diamondbacks' system. He set the FPU school record for strikeouts as a junior, with Vaughn as his freshman catcher, and thinks Vaughn will excel in the Marlins' system.
"Michael Vaughn is an excellent defensive catcher with big time offensive potential," Darrah said. "He is far and away the best catcher I have ever thrown to and I'm convinced the Marlins got a steal in the 14th round."
The Marlins have affiliates in New Orleans (AAA), Jacksonville (AA), Jupiter (A+), Greensboro (A) and Jamestown (A-) in addition to the team's rookie-level affiliate in Florida.