The junior center fielder from San Diego State is the son of Greg Vaughn, a first-round selection in the 1986 First-Year Player Draft and a four-time Major League All Star; cousin of Mo Vaughn, the 1995 American League MVP who played for the Mets from 2002-03; and was coached at San Diego State by Tony Gwynn, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
As if that weren't enough, he played two seasons at San Diego State with Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, who struck out 14 in his Major League debut and earned the win in the Nationals' victory over the Pirates on Tuesday.
"He was one of the best dudes you'll meet, really humble," Vaughn said of Strasburg. "I think he's going to go out there and really compete and do very, very well."
Vaughn, listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, hit .378 with a 1.060 OPS during his junior year in college, showing both power (nine home runs) and speed (15 stolen bases) while being named to the all-Mountain West Conference second team.
Of all the people in his life who have a professional baseball background, none helped him more with his game than his father, who hit 355 home runs in 15 Major League seasons.
"He's been giving me the knowledge he said he didn't learn until his fifth or sixth year into the league," Vaughn said. "Don't just be a hitter, if you're going to play the outfield, learn to play it well. Know what's going to happen one play ahead of time."
The advice helped turn Vaughn from a three-sport star in high school, who described his baseball ability as "very raw," to a well-rounded Draft prospect.
"Going from where I was coming out of high school to where I'm at now is a huge difference to me," Vaughn said. "Going to San Diego State really forced me to mature a lot."
Coming out of Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., where he also played football and basketball, Vaughn was drafted by the Phillies in the 43rd round of the 2007 Draft.
The decision not to sign and go to college instead was a relatively easy one, as Vaughn still had a lot of developing left to do as a baseball player.
"When we recruited him, he was probably 6-1, he came here at 6-3, and now he's about 6-5, and it's all muscle," Gwynn told the North County Times in May 2009. "He puts on his uniform, and that's how you wish big leaguers looked. And his skill-set is getting better and better. I think next year at this time, he can be a monster."
Vaughn said he got the call from Mets director of amateur scouting Rudy Terassas during the third round saying that the Mets would be selecting Vaughn in the fourth round if he were still available.
"I tell you what, he's a big, strong physical player," Terassas said. "He comes from a great program. He has a lot of ability to go along with the tools."
The news came as a relief for Vaughn, who said the only thing he knew about where he might get drafted came from San Diego State pitching coach Eric Valenzuela, who told him he would go somewhere in the first 10 rounds.
Though Vaughn elected not to sign with the Phillies out of high school, the college junior said he is ready to move forward with a professional career in baseball and definitely will be signing with the Mets.