Zangari adjusting to switch from mound to first
White Sox No. 24 prospect changed positions after 2015 Draft
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Doug Weese doesn't believe in labeling young kids as "can't miss" or "sure fire" prospects, but when Corey Zangari joined the Oklahoma Outlaws, Weese knew something was different.
"You could see he was something special at a very young age," Weese, a former professional scout and American Legion manager in Oklahoma, said.
What remained to be seen was just how good Zangari was going to be -- although looking back, there was plenty of foreshadowing.
Zangari, the 24th-ranked prospect in the White Sox organization, won three consecutive home run derbies when he was 9,10 and 11 years old.
Now 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Zangari has always had power, but when he started pitching -- and throwing in the upper 90s -- Weese knew he had pro potential.
"I sat down with his mom and dad and said 'you guys need to get ready, and I'm going to prepare you for what's going to start happening -- the scouts and the agents and stuff,'" Weese said. "You could really see his rise and his confidence and his ability when he was 16, 17 years old. [You could tell] that if he kept improving, he was going to have the chance that he's having today."
Prior to that conversation, not a lot of people were looking at Zangari, so it came as a bit of a shock.
"When he told me that, I was like 'Man, I really hope my dream comes true,'" Zangari said. "He's always wanted the best for me. I've known him since I was five and I've been under his wing for a long time, so that made me more excited than anything."
However, as someone who had not been scouted a ton previously, the process came at Zangari fast. Weese had warned the Zangari family, but hearing it and experiencing it are two different things.
"It was a little scary at first, and hectic, but looking back on it, I wouldn't do it any other way," Zangari said.
As a pitcher, Zangari's mechanics were off, and his command was spotty at best. However, Zangari also caught in high school, and once scouts saw his raw power, they were intrigued.
The White Sox used their sixth-round pick to select Zangari out of Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma and immediately moved him to first base.
"I like him at first base," said Wayne Dozier, who managed Zangari in high school. "I told the White Sox guy that we didn't play him there because we needed him to catch, but I think first is his best position."
Although Zangari wouldn't mind taking another chance at pitching, he's happy at first because it allows him to hit.
"It's something new, and I'm picking it up quick," Zangari said. "I love hitting the ball, that's one thing I want to do. I love pitching, but hitting is my favorite thing to do."
Zangari's first professional hit -- while playing for the Arizona League White Sox -- was a home run.
"It was pretty crazy," Zangari said. "It felt good, big weight off my shoulders."
Zangari didn't collect that first hit until his 11th professional at-bat, but once the pressure was off, the hits just kept coming.
In 49 Arizona Rookie League games, Zangari hit .327 with six home runs, 40 RBIs and 21 multi-hit games. That showing led to a promotion to Rookie League Great Falls, where Zangari picked up right where he'd left off, going 2-for-4 in his Pioneer League debut on Thursday.
"He's just a big strong kid. He's got a great eye for the ball, and I think his best days are ahead of him," Weese said. "He loves the game, and his work ethic is impeccable. He wants to do everything he can to be the best he can, so he puts in that extra work and it's paid off."
"I think his potential is unlimited at this point," Dozier said. "He's got the body already, only 18 years old. He's going to learn the ins and outs of it, and how to hit different pitchers as he works his way up. I can see him having a long career because he really wants it, he works hard and he does the extra stuff."