Mar 7, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman C.J. Cron (84) hits an RBI single in the ninth inning of a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Cubs won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
I am finally here in Arizona and am able to supply daily first-hand looks at prospects across the Cactus League. I will be putting up reports based on what I see each day, likely highlighting at least two players each day.
I spent the morning at the Kansas City Royals minor league complex, and watched Marten Gasparini run through infield drills. The 16-year old Italian was famously signed to a $1.3 million dollar deal in July, the richest ever for a European player, $500,000 more than Max Kepler out of Germany. I have read several outlets questioning whether or not he will be able to stick at short, but today I liked his actions at short. He has little-to-no excess movement, but is not stiff. He booted a few balls, but he was also taking grounders from a coach during live batting practice, so he wasn’t always completely focused on a single baseball at a time and will get a pass on those few.
I missed his rotation through the batting cage as I got distracted by George Brett holding court and talking hitting with some of the Royals coaches. Forgive me, but I am a baseball fan, and if I get a chance to listen in on George Brett talk hitting, I am going to. Gasparini will likely be held back in extended spring and spend the season in short-season complex ball, so I will have a chance to get several looks at him.
Later in the day, I attended the Texas Rangers hosting a split squad Los Angeles Angels team. Alexi Ogando was on the hill for the Rangers, and he struggled today, but my main focus was on C.J. Cron‘s four at-bats and he was underwhelming today. His first at-bat against Ogando was decent as he fouled two 94 MPH fastballs straight back, but when Ogando pulled the string on a full count change, Cron swung right through it while looking completely confused by the pitch. He also lined out to center against Ogando, was struck out by Jose Contreras, and popped out to first off Ryan Feierabend.
Throughout the day, Cron showed consistent trouble with off-speed stuff, but he looked good on fastballs. Cron will probably spend a good portion of the season at Triple-A, but if he can hit for a good average, he could be a solid power bat in the middle of the order, but I question whether or not he will be able to hit for that average. When he makes contact, the ball can go far, he just needs to prove he can hit the big league off-speed offerings.