Player: Greg Vaughn
Born: July 3rd, 1965 (Currently 49 years old)
Positions: LF, CF, RF, and DH
Drafted: On June 2nd, 1986 by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1st round (#4) of the 1986 June draft
Start of Tenure: On December 13th, 1999 signed as a free agent
End of Tenure: On March 22nd, 2003 was released
Currently: Retired, various roles around baseball
Rays Stat Line: Slashed .226/.335/.434 with 271 Hits, 60 HR, 185 RBI, 22 SB, and 5.3 WAR in 332 games
Greg Vaughn, astonishingly, was drafted five times before he finally signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after being selected fourth overall in the 1986 June draft. The Brewers assigned the 20-year-old draft pick to their Rookie-League team in Helena, Montana.
In Helena, Vaughn dominated the team's offensive categories, along with a 17-year-old shortstop named Gary Sheffield. In 66 games, Vaughn slashed .291/.363/.543 with 16 HR and 54 RBI.
The next year, Greg Vaughn excelled in his first full season of professional baseball as he slashed .305/.425/.592 with 33 HR and 105 RBI in 139 games. In 1988, Vaughn advanced to double-A El Paso where he again impressed with the bat, finally breaking into the Brewers' top-ten prospect list, being ranked fifth by Baseball America.
In 1989, Vaughn was promoted to triple-A Denver, where his numbers remained consistent, and eventually earned him a promotion to the big leagues on August 10th. He'd the finish the season with Milwaukee and slashed .265/.336/.425 with 5 HR (only 113 AB) and 23 RBI in 38 games. After the season, Vaughn was Milwaukee's number one prospect, and he was ranked ninth in all of baseball overall by Baseball America.
Mashing in Milwaukee
In 1990, Greg Vaughn began his first full season at the major league level and didn't quite achieve the success he had in the minors. As the years went by, Vaughn's career slowly progressed, until 1993 when he finally enjoyed a breakout year in which he set several new career high-marks. He slashed .267/.369/.482 with 30 HR and 97 RBI in 154 games. Vaughn was also elected to be in the all-star game.
The next two seasons didn't go as well for Vaughn. He was hampered by a right-shoulder injury that required surgery and his numbers dwindled. He failed to hit over 20 HR in both seasons (although 1994 was shortened by the strike).
In 1996, the final year of Vaughn's contract with the Brewers, he dominated. By the trade deadline, Vaughn had slashed .280/.378/.571 with 31 HR and 95 RBI in 102 games. He had also been named to his second all-star team. His resurgence caught the attention of the San Diego Padres and on July 31st, 1996 the Brewers traded Vaughn along with Jerry Parent to the Padres for Bryce Florie, Marc Newfield, and Ron Villone.
Unfortunately for the Padres, Vaughn fell into a heavy slump that would last until the end of the season as struggled to hit over .200 with them, but he did slug 10 homers. He received his first taste of postseason play, but only received three at bats, and he went hitless during the NLDS as the Padres were swept by the Cardinals.
Vaughn became a free agent after the year, but chose to resign with San Diego. Unfortunately, 1997 didn't go any better, and it looked like he had peaked and was nearing the end of his career. In 120 games, Vaughn slashed .216/.322/.393 with only 18 HR and 57 RBI.
In 1998, though, Vaughn enjoyed an incredible turnaround as he eclipsed his old career highs. In a year that featured the dramatic home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, Greg Vaughn also battered the National League as he clubbed 50 home runs, knocked in 119 runs, and slashed .272/.363/.597 in 158 games.
He led the Padres to the World Series, where'd they eventually lose the New York Yankees. After the season, Vaughn would be rewarded with numerous accolades, such as being named the National League Comeback Player of the Year as well as being given one of the NL's Silver Slugger awards. Vaughn was also voted fourth in the MVP voting.
On February 2nd, 1999 the San Diego Padres sent Vaughn to the Cincinnati Reds along with Mark Sweeney in exchange for Josh Harris, Damian Jackson, and Reggie Sanders. After his acquisition, Vaughn caused some controversy as he wanted to keep his goatee, which he's had all of his career, but the Reds had a "no facial hair" policy.
Many fans of the team voiced their opinions, such as Scott Smith of Kokomo, IN
"Do Reds fans really want a bunch of 70s style, Rod Beck-type goofballs running around out on the field? Facial hair and weird haircuts for ballplayers went out with Charlie Finley's Oakland Athletics."
Eventually though, the policy would be repealed and Vaughn was allowed to keep his goatee and he'd go on to become a fan favorite in Cincinatti as he hit .245/.347/.535 with 45 HR and 118 RBI in 153 games. He become a free agentafter the season ended.
Expensive Devil Ray
On December 13th, 1999 Greg Vaughn signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as part of a movement by the team to bring in some veteran sluggers (they had acquired Vinny Castilla earlier that same day) to join Jose Canseco and Fred McGriff. Vaughn's deal was for 4 years and worth $34 million. It was disastrous for the club as Vaughn and McGriff were the only players to put up numbers near what was expected, while Canseco's power deserted him and Castillo's bat completely died.
Vaughn led the team with 28 HR, 74 RBI, and slashed .254/.365/.499 in 127 games. The following year, Vaughn had a decent start to the year, and did excellent in June winning player-of-the-week during the month. He'd be selected as the Devil Rays lone representative to the all-star game, but after the break he struggled, and only hit three more home runs the rest of the season. He slashed .233/.333/.433 with 24 HR and 82 RBI in 136 games.
In 2002, Vaughn only played in 69 games before his season was mercifully cut short due to a rib cage injury. He slashed .163/.286/.315 with 8 HR and 29 RBI. During spring training in 2003, Greg Vaughn's time with Tampa Bay came to an end as he was released on March 23rd. The Devil Rays decided to eat the $9 million remaining on his contract rather than have him on the roster.
Greg Vaughn signed with Colorado Rockies in attempt to resurrect his career like Vinny Castilla had a few years prior, but it didn't work out for him as he was released in July. The following year in 2004, Vaughn went to spring training with the Cardinals, but had an awful spring and announced his retirement after being released.
Over the years, Vaughn has participated in several events to promote baseball around the world, he also participated in the annual MLB draft as a representative for several teams. In 2009, he was placed on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, but didn't receive any votes and was eliminated.
His son, Cory Vaughn, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the New York Mets, and was once one of the better prospects in the Mets' system, but has fallen off in recent years.
Career Stat Line: Slashed .242/.337/.470 with 1,475 Hits, 355 HR, 1,072 RBI, 121 SB, and 30.7 WAR in 1,731 games
- 4 Time Allstar
- Won the Sliver Slugger Award in 1998
- NL Comeback Player of the Year in 1998
- Voted 4th, twice for the MVP award in 1998 and 1999