Zangari stands out with play, leadership skills

18-year-old has impressed White Sox since being picked in 2015 Draft

Zangari stands out with play, leadership skills

CHICAGO -- Corey Zangari possesses immense power.

It's the sort of standout trait that pushed the White Sox to take the 6-foot-4, 240-pound first baseman in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft. But that potential knockout punch was not the only reason the White Sox liked the right-handed hitter from Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma.

"Huge raw power, but he has an unbelievable ability to judge the strike zone for an 18-year-old kid," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who scouted Zangari last year as the organization's assistant scouting director. "Then his makeup is completely off the charts.

"He is a leader. He is a locker-room guy that everybody loves in the clubhouse. He spent [six] games in Great Falls, and from the time he showed up there, he was the leader of the locker room, which is impressive. I think he turned 18 in May. He's a young, young kid and just has that aura about him."

Zangari committed to pitch and hit for Oklahoma State before joining the White Sox. He did both in high school, with a fastball that touched 98 mph.

Speaking at the end of White Sox Instructional League action, Zangari, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the White Sox No. 21 prospect, admitted that there were times when he wished for the chance to pitch. But he loves to hit.

"With the way my first season went, I'm happy with what I chose," Zangari said. "The White Sox have treated me very well. This is a great organization to start my Major League career. I love it. It has been awesome. It's a dream come true."

In 48 games with the Arizona Rookie-level White Sox and six with Great Falls, Zangari finished with a .316 average, an .839 OPS, six homers and 41 RBIs. It also came with some changes to his swing.

"When Corey would load, his head would move on a sway back and cause his eyes to move a little bit," Hostetler said. "It would be tough to judge the ball out of the hand. [Gary Ward] and Jim Thome worked on him, limiting his head movement, the sway back and just getting in a good load position. They did wonders."

In his first 10 games, Zangari went 9-for-44 (.205), but after the changes, he had 20 multi-hit efforts in his final 44 games. He has drawn comparisons to the D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt at a very early stage. And getting advice from a future Hall of Famer was a bit overwhelming at first.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is Jim Thome,'" said a smiling Zangari. "You kind of just shake your head. I was just a fan. It was awesome. It was perfect.

"One day, I pulled him aside and said, 'Hey, listen, I'm a big fan and I wanted to say thanks for all you helped me with.' He said, 'We are together now, we are a team.' And I'm like, 'You are still Jim Thome in my head. You are Jim Thome.'"

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.