His first day of baseball practice after enrolling at San Diego State University, Cory Vaughn recalled with a laugh, he momentarily drew the disapproval of his coach, eight-time National League batting champion Tony Gwynn.
“Coach Gwynn, the first thing he says to me, he goes, ‘Hey, there’s no cell phones or MP3 players on the field,’” Vaughn recalled. “The first day I went out to practice, because I’m diabetic and I wear an insulin pump, I had the pump in my back pocket, and it’s connected to me. I’m like, ‘No coach. I’m diabetic. This is my stuff.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, oh.’”
The 21-year-old Vaughn, the Mets’ fourth-round pick, and the son of 15-year major league outfielder Greg Vaughn, is currently the highest-round selection from this month’s draft assigned to the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones, who opened play Friday under Wally Backman. Vaughn produced his first professional homer and triple Monday, against Aberdeen.
A former major league batboy, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Vaughn was a college teammate of Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg under Gwynn. Vaughn also has interacted on numerous occasions at Christmas parties and baseball camps with Jerry Manuel, having grown up just outside of Sacramento, where the Mets manager lives.
As for his Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, which leaves his body unable to self-regulate its blood sugar levels, Vaughn has dealt with the condition since being diagnosed at 11 years old.
“You’ll see it in my pocket. It’s like a little pump,” Vaughn said of the apparatus he carries with him, even during games. “I stick a needle in my thigh. And I take the needle out, and there’s like a little catheter in me and it just pumps insulin every hour.”
He tests himself roughly five times every game. He also has to perform the procedure with every meal.
“And I eat a lot,” Vaughn said with a grin.
“It is what it is,” he continued. “Either I do it, or it’s not going to be any good. It really wasn’t an obstacle. I just took it as a mountain I had to climb. I’ve been doing very well at it.”
The elder Vaughn was Gwynn’s teammate from 1996-98 with the San Diego Padres, but Gwynn’s San Diego State staff still had to make a late push to recruit the Elk Grove, Calif., high school prospect.
“I was running around in the clubhouse as a little dude, so I guess we knew each other a little bit,” the Cyclone said about his relationship with Gwynn. “I was going to go to USC. I was leaning toward USC very strongly. And then at the Area Code Games, Coach Gwynn was in the stands. And the assistant coach, Mark Martinez, went and talked to my dad and said, ‘Hey, we want to get him down here on an unofficial visit.’ So I visited the school the next day after the Area Code Games. I just loved it. I saw the baseball facility and I talked to the coaches. I was an Aztec from there on out.”
Vaughn’s recollection of his father’s playing career primarily is of the latter stages with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2000-02, when he was 11-13 years old.
“Every time my dad would hit a home run, I’d always run out there and grab the bat and meet him at home plate and give him a little fist pound,” he recalled. “We have a bunch of pictures of that. That was good times. And just going to the field early and just setting balls on the tee for my dad and helping him get his extra work in, and being around all the guys in the clubhouse, it was just a great time.”
The highlight of Vaughn’s college career was playing with San Diego State in an NCAA Regional in 2009, along with Virginia and Fresno State at UC Irvine, although the Aztecs failed to advance. Vaughn hit .378 and had team highs with nine homers and 55 RBIs in 188 at-bats as a junior this spring.
During his college years, he had the chance to hit against Strasburg several times during intrasquad games.
“We played him in the fall,” Vaughn said. “I got him once or twice, but he got me the other times. But it was a great battle.”
“Not take him deep, but I squared him up a few times,” Vaughn said, offering a clarification. “Not too many. It was challenging, and I like that. It made me better a little bit to see some good stuff.
“He has great stuff. He’s a good dude. He has his head straight on his shoulders. He’s very humble. He just goes out there and gets after it.”
Average: Randoll Santana, Gulf Coast, .667; Josh Dunn, Gulf Coast, .500; Jesus Feliciano, Buffalo, .385; Tillman Pugh, Gulf Coast, 333; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .328; Josh Satin, Binghamton, .316; Stefan Welch, St. Lucie, .301; Juan Lagares, Savannah, .300; Pedro Zapata, Savannah, .290; Luis Hernandez, Binghamton, .288.
Homers: Mike Hessman, Buffalo, 18; Nick Evans, Binghamton, 12.
RBIs: Mike Hessman, Buffalo, 57; Wilmer Flores, Savannah, 44; Stefan Welch, St. Lucie, 44; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, 41; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Binghamton, 40.
Steals: Cesar Puello, Savannah, 24; Pedro Zapata, Savannah, 20; Emmanuel Garcia, St. Lucie, 18; Juan Lagares, Savannah, 18; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Binghamton, 11.
ERA: Daniel Carela, Gulf Coast, 0.00; Dawrin Frias, Gulf Coast, 0.00; Ernesto Yanez, Gulf Coast, 0.00; Angel Cuan, Brooklyn, 0.87; Mark Cohoon, Savannah, 1.30; Jimmy Fuller, Savannah, 1.94; R.A. Dickey, Buffalo, 2.23; Wesley Wrenn, Brooklyn, 2.25; Chris Hilliard, Brooklyn, 2.38; Brandon Moore, Savannah, 2.49.
Wins: Mark Cohoon, Savannah, 7; Dillon Gee, Buffalo, 6; Manuel Alvarez, Binghamton, 6, Jimmy Fuller, Savannah, 6.
Saves: Manuel Alvarez, Binghamton, 11; Michael Powers, Savannah, 8; Elmer Dessens, Buffalo, 6; John Lujan, Buffalo, 6; Roy Merritt, Buffalo, 6.
Strikeouts: Brandon Moore, Savannah, 98; Jimmy Fuller, Savannah, 79; Dillon Gee, Buffalo, 75; Mark Cohoon, Savannah, 75; Armando Rodriguez, Savannah, 63.
Statistics through Monday
Shortstop Wilmer Flores and left-hander Mark Cohoon are expected to highlight the mass promotions from low-A Savannah, which captured its South Atlantic League division title on the final day of the first half Sunday. The 18-year-old Flores (.278, 7 HR, 44 RBIs) appears ticketed for St. Lucie, while Cohoon (7-1, 1.30) -- who has tossed three straight shutouts -- appears ticketed for Binghamton. Neither move officially had been made because both participated in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday night. The Sand Gnats had a league-high six All-Stars. The others: left-hander Jimmy Fuller, right-hander Brandon Moore, catcher Kai Gronaeur and outfielder Juan Lagares. Right-hander Erik Turgeon, Fisher, Moore, Gronaeur and Lagares are expected to join Flores with promotions to St. Lucie. Cohoon’s three straight shutouts match the South Atlantic League record, last achieved by Scott Robinson of Charleston (W.Va.) in 1992. Cohoon did not allow an earned in his final 33 1/3 innings with the Gnats, which included the entire month of June. The Mets won their first South Atlantic League title since 2005 with Hagerstown. Cohoon and Moore each tossed scoreless innings for the South in Tuesday’s All-Star Game and combined to strike out five. … Right-hander Jeurys Familia has been selected to represent the Mets at the July 11 Futures Game in Anaheim, Calif., at 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2/ESPN2 HD). Familia is 0-4 with a 6.16 ERA in 11 starts for St. Lucie. … Kingsport, managed by former major league catcher Mike DiFelice, opened its season Tuesday with a victory. The roster includes 18-year-old third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez and 19-year-old catcher Nelfi Zapata. … The Mets acquired Jorge Padilla from the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named in order to help depleted Buffalo. Padilla, 30, was hitting .330 (61-for-185) with four homers and 27 RBIs in 50 games with Triple-A Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. He led all full-season minor leaguers with a .367 average last season with Triple-A Syracuse, but fell 38 plate appearances shy of earning the International League batting title because of a promotion to the majors. Padilla was 3-for-25 with the Washington Nationals in 2009 after making his major league debut Aug. 5, 2009. He played for Double-A Binghamton in the Mets organization in 2006. Padilla, who debuted with the Bisons on Saturday, exclusively has played center field for Buffalo. That’s allowed Fernando Martinez to return to right field, where he is better suited. The Mets are limiting Martinez’s playing time anyway as he returns from a strained left hamstring. Martinez, who has averaged 78 games a minor league season because of assorted injuries from 2006-09, has started no more than five straight days since returning to Buffalo’s lineup on June 11. … Center fielder Sean Ratliff and second baseman Josh Satin have filled in nicely at Binghamton for a pair of injured B-Mets -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis (shoulder) and Reese Havens (oblique muscle). Ratliff homered twice Tuesday and produced five RBIs in a 13-3 win against New Britain while upping his average to .323. Satin also had three hits as well as two RBIs in the victory and is hitting .376 in Double-A. Nieuwenhuis, who suffered a shoulder strain making a stellar diving catch in Trenton, could be back within a week. … Third baseman Eric Campbell, an eighth-round pick in 2008 from Boston College, has continued to produce since a call-up from St. Lucie to Binghamton to replace Zach Lutz (foot stress fracture). Campbell had four hits and 11 total bases Saturday and is hitting .315 with the B-Mets. He already has a combined nine homers this season between the Florida State and Eastern leagues. Campbell exclusively had played third base in his first 28 games with the B-Mets, but has appeared in left field each of his past two games. He left Tuesday’s game after being hit on the hand. … Jose Coronado has seen action at third base for Binghamton his past two games -- his first appearances at that position this season. Coronado played one inning at third base for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League on Oct. 9, and five games at the hot corner in the winter league in 2008, but the middle infielder had not appeared at that position with the Mets organization in any of the past six regular seasons. … Newly demoted Jenrry Mejia’s first minor league start is scheduled for Wednesday for Binghamton against new Britain. … B-Mets first baseman Nick Evans has an eight-game hitting streak. … Right-hander Brad Holt, the 33rd overall pick in the 2008 draft that also yielded Ike Davis and Havens in the first round, was demoted from Binghamton to St. Lucie. He did not fare much better in his first Class A start. Delayed a day by rain, Holt allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and a walk in four innings and was charged with the loss as Bradenton beat St. Lucie, 5-2, in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Holt went 1-5 with a 10.20 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) for the B-Mets. Opponents had a .336 batting average and Holt issued 23 walks and plunked three batters in 30 Double-A innings. … Buffalo’s Valentino Pacscucci slugged three homers Friday against Indianapolis. … Justin Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, has reached based in 23 of 24 games since joining Buffalo. Turner is hitting .309 with the Bisons. … The Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame will induct infielder Richie Sexson and broadcaster Duke McGuire as its 80th and 81st members July 18 before the Bisons’ game against Gwinnett. Sexson, whose major league career ended in 2008 with the New York Yankees, hit 52 homers in 204 games with Buffalo from 1997-98 -- while the Bisons were a Cleveland Indians affiliate. … 2009 fourth-round pick Darrell Ceciliani is off to a quick start with Brooklyn. The outfielder, who turned 20 on Tuesday and attended high school in Madras, Ore., is hitting .304 through five New York-Penn League games. Ceciliani also has a highlight-reel catch on the warning track to his credit. … Carlos Beltran is scheduled to make his first official minor league rehab start in center field on Thursday for St. Lucie at 7 p.m. That begins a 20-day rehab clock, after which Beltran needs to be activated. … Juan Urbina, the son of former major league reliever Ugueth Urbina, tossed five scoreless innings in his professional debut Tuesday with the Gulf Coast League Mets. The 17-year-old Venezuelan left-hander signed for $1.2 million last July. … Shortstop Robbie Shields, a third-round pick in ’09 out of Florida Southern who had Tommy John surgery at the end of last season, has returned to serve as DH for the Gulf Coast League Mets this week.
Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the season