Gavin Cross’ final college season came to an end on June 12, meaning the Virginia Tech product had to wait 35 days until he was selected ninth overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. It was another 18 days until his first professional game. With the waiting over, Cross is making
Gavin Cross’ final college season came to an end on June 12, meaning the Virginia Tech product had to wait 35 days until he was selected ninth overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. It was another 18 days until his first professional game. With the waiting over, Cross is making the most of his time.
Baseball’s No. 75 overall prospect posted his first multihomer game, leaving the yard twice while adding a single and driving in four, as Single-A Columbia routed visiting Kannapolis, 12-1.
“[The work] is not put on you,” Cross said of his pro debut. “It’s kind of, do what you need to do to get ready, go out and play. Just finding that routine, trying to get back on-time in the box and at the plate, just going out and playing the game that you’ve always played, try to have fun and win with new guys that you just met, friends that you’re going to keep forever, that’s how I’ve approached it.”
The approach is paying early dividends for Kansas City’s new top prospect. Cross had four hits in his previous two games before clobbering his first homer of the night to give Columbia a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Wednesday.
“I think I made a good adjustment,” the outfielder said. “I swung under a fastball and kind of worked back the count to 3-2 and got another fastball and didn’t miss it.”
After a single to right in the third inning, Cross absorbed more lessons at the plate.
“My third at-bat, I struck out on a slider, he said of a fifth-inning K. “[Kannapolis reliever Angel Acevedo] actually threw back-to-back sliders. I was facing the same guy the next at-bat, so I thought he might attack me with the slider. First pitch, he kind of backed one up, and I think I made a good adjustment.”
Cross clobbered Acevedo’s first offering in the sixth and sent it over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer, giving him his second three-hit game in his last three. He also made his presence known defensively.
The 21-year-old made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League on Aug. 4, and though he only played three games in Rookie ball, they were important ones.
“They were huge,” he said. “I was actually down there for almost two weeks before I played those games. We were hitting, practicing, doing the whole thing. It was good to get in there, get my body back underneath me, my legs, try to get back on-time. You can’t really replicate live at-bats and live swings.”
In three ACL contests, Cross went 5-for-10 with a homer and two doubles and got readjusted to facing in-game pitching.
“In Arizona, I felt like guys didn’t land their breaker a lot,” he said. “Up here, guys are landing it more. You’ve just got to stick to your approach, and if a guy makes a good pitch, you’ve got to move on and go to the next one. Obviously everyone is talented, but so are we, so are the hitters.”
Columbia’s pitching impressed on Tuesday, too. Eighth-ranked Royals prospect Frank Mozzicato -- who tossed four straight no-hitters in high school last year -- threw four hitless innings and struck out six to counter four walks and a run allowed.
“I don’t know what the numbers are on his fastball, but it looked like it had a lot of carry and spin,” Cross said of the starter. “There were a lot of guys swinging under his fastball, and he’s a competitor. He threw four hitless innings, but he was upset in the dugout a little bit with command. He’s a competitor, and you can tell he wants it. He’s got a bright future, and he’s a great guy.”
In relief, Marlin Willis struck out seven in two innings – yes, you read that right. Willis fanned four in the eighth after Wilfred Veras reached on a wild pitch strike three. Cross couldn’t remember the last time he saw a four-K frame but marveled at the reliever’s work.
“Probably in high school, maybe,” Cross said with a laugh. “I can’t remember, but it’s been a while, for sure. That dude’s stuff is electric. He’s animated on the mound, and it’s special. Definitely not an at-bat I would want.”
Tyler Maun is a reporter for MiLB.com and co-host of “The Show Before The Show” podcast. You can find him on Twitter @tylermaun.