Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014 Prospect Countdown: #39 Marten Gasparini

39. Marten Gasparini Short Stop

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Age: 16
Position: SS
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 175
B/T: S/R
Acquired: Signed by the Kansas City Royals during the 2013 International Signing Period for $1.3 million
From: Alture, Italy

Landon Adams (30): Just 16 years old, we've yet to find Gasparini's name appear in a minor league box score. Barring a Raul Mondesi Jr. type of debut, he'll likely spend a couple of seasons between Idaho Falls and Burlington. Given his Italian background, I expect the Royals to take their time with him than they would with other top international prospects. 

Paden Bennett (NR): Once the Gasparini rumors started last year I immediately was intrigued by the chance of signing him.  After all, he was considered to be the best European prospect EVER.  You can read the article I wrote about the Royals being the frontrunner for him here.  Bill Holmberg said that Gasparini reminded him of Derek Jeter: "The player who he reminds of most is Derek Jeter,” Holmberg said. “Now I realize those are some big shoes to fill and they are definitely different in their swings and some skills, but I think they are similar in their actions. I have seen Marten make some plays on (defense) that are more advanced than what should be the case considering the age on his identity card."  At age 16, Gasparini is still a long ways away from being relevant; but I am extremely excited to see him move through the system.  Keep an eye on this young shortstop.

Joe Cox (30): I am part of the reason that Gasparini makes our list, but I am glad that he gets mentioned here.  Gasparini was ranked as the no. 12 International Prospect signed before the July 2nd deadline in 2013, signed by the Royals for a reported 1.3 million dollars.  Gasparini is considered by many to be the best European prospect ever and has the ability to play a premium defensive position.  The talent level he has faced at this point leaves a big question mark in terms of his true talent, but he is certainly an exciting player to have in the system.  Paden Bennett predicted the future that the Royals would sign him last summer here, and gives us an idea of the upside that this player has.

Dan Ware (NR): This past summer, the Royals made a huge splash in the European Baseball scene, signing Gasparini for a record $1.3 million in July. The very young shortstop was considered to be the top prospect in the European market.  Baseball America had him ranked as the 12th best prospect on the International list.

Although Marten isn't known for the power, he has tremendous bat speed and the approach to be a leadoff or two-hole hitter.  Bill Holmberg, former Chicago Cubs scout, is now Director of the Italian Baseball Academy says Marten could "eventually hit 20 or so home runs a year."  As for his play at shortstop, scouts say he has good range on balls up the middle of the diamond, but going to his right can be daunting at times, because of his arm strength, which is said to be in the 40-50 range on the scouting 20-80 scale. During a Q&A with FanGraphs, which you can check out here, Gasparini mentioned he would be heading to the Arizona League to begin the 2014 season. This kid will be fun to watch and hopefully his adjustment to more hard-throwing pitchers goes smoothly.

Total Points: 2

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