Top Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers Minor League History: #15 Greg Vaughn, 1988 El Paso

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As we get down to number 15 in the Top Hitters in Milwaukee Brewers Minor League History, we are going to start seeing a recurring theme: El Paso.

The west Texas town was made famous in song by Marty Robbins and in baseball by the El Paso Diablos, the Brewers Double A affiliate from 1981-1998. The Diablos played at Dudley Field–which is worth an article on its own–through the middle of June 1990, when they moved to Cohen Stadium, a much more pitcher-friendly ballpark.

Dudley Field, also known as the ‘Dudley Dome,’ was a nightmare for hurlers and a money-making opportunity for the Diablos hitters.  After home runs, El Paso players would stop by the box seats, where kids and adults alike would fill the hitter’s batting helmet with dollar bills and coins. A nice piece by David Maraniss of the Washington Post describes the park and its quirks quite well.

Eight of the next 15 players in the ‘Top Hitters’ series played in El Paso between 1982-1991, while one El Paso player played his entire season (1997) at Cohen Stadium.

The hitter at #15 is a player long-time Brewers fans will remember quite well–Greg Vaughn.

#15 Greg Vaughn, 1988 El Paso (AA)

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Vaughn was drafted four times in two years (January draft and June draft) before signing with the Brewers as the fourth overall pick in the 1986 June draft. The big slugger was assigned to Helena in the Rookie Pioneer League and immediately made his presence known, slashing .291/.363/.543 in 300 plate appearances.

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The next year (1987), he moved up to Beloit in Class A Midwest, where he continued to hurt the baseball, slashing .305/.425/.593 in 608 trips to the plate, including 33 home runs. That set up his momentous 1988 season.

Vaughn earned bonus points for being two years younger than league average (22 vs. 23.9) but lost a bunch of points due to the brazen hitter’s park profile that the Dudley Dome projected.

The Diablos had the best regular season record in the Texas League (74-60) but failed to win the league championship, which was won by the Tulsa Drillers.

Vaughn led the league in runs scored (104), doubles (39), homers (28), RBI (105), and total bases (279). He finished third with 152 hits and a .552 slugging average. Despite those numbers, he was not named MVP of the Texas League–Jeff Manto of Midland was.

He played at AAA Denver for most of 1989, before getting called up to Milwaukee for good in mid-August.

Vaughn played eight years for Milwaukee, slashing .246/.333/.459 while clubbing 169 round-trippers. He played seven more seasons with Tampa Bay, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Colorado. In his 15-year career, Vaughn hit 355 home runs, good for 86th overall in major league history.

He hit 50 for the Padres in 1998, and had two other years of 40+ home runs. Vaughn was a four-time All-Star and finished fourth in league MVP voting twice (1998, 1999).

Vaughn had a nice career and was a fan favorite in Milwaukee, but his 1988 season at El Paso was pretty nice, too.

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