Hindsight being 20/20, Cory Spangenberg was probably an overdraft. Two years ago, the San Diego Padres took the speedy second baseman 10th overall. George Springer and Jose Fernandez, among others, were still on the board.
That doesn’t mean Spangenberg won’t be a productive big-leaguer. The 22-year-old has great wheels, and his left-handed stroke shows plenty of promise. Playing at high-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, he hit .292/.346/.407, with nine triples and 36 stolen bases. His glove has been a question mark, but he made great strides this year working with former defensive whiz Rich Dauer.
Spangenberg further fine-tuned his game in the Arizona Fall League, with the Peoria Javelinas. The Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania product discussed his development in the final week of the AFL season.
Spangenberg on how he identifies his game: “I see myself as a blue collar player who can hit for average. I haven’t tapped into my power yet, but it might be down there somewhere. I’m maybe not the prettiest in the field, but I get the job done.
“My hitting and speed are my strengths. I still need to get better defensively, but I think I’m a better fielder than people give me credit for. Ever since I was drafted, people thought I was going to move to the outfield, so I’ve been working hard to prove them wrong.”
On defense: “My backhand probably needs the most work. I’ve gotten a lot better at turning the double play. Rich Dauer was our Double-A manager this year, and he did a really good job working with me.
“What I mostly need is more repetitions. This is really only the third year I’ve been playing baseball all year round. I’m definitely moving in the right direction. The biggest gains I’ve made this year have been on defense.”
On hitting and pitch recognition: “My batting average wasn’t what I’d like this year. I was a little inconsistent and should have done better. Sometimes I’d get a little outside of my game and chase pitches. That’s when I’d struggle.
“You need at bats. You can’t simulate game at bats, so that’s the most important thing. [Pitch recognition] comes with time. Being here in the Fall League gets me more at bats, and I‘m getting better with every game.
“What I’m looking for depends on the count. Early on, I’m looking for a fastball, middle away, and laying off the off-speed. Where the count goes from there dictates the rest.”
On his spray chart and growing into power: “I’m a little spread out at the plate; I have a fairly open stance. I’m usually hitting the ball from left-center to right-center. I don’t put it down the lines too much, I’m usually gap-to-gap. I try to hit ground balls and line drives. Staying out of the air plays to my game.
“I think understanding my swing better, getting more at bats against quality pitching, and just getting older, will increase my power. I’m trying to get stronger, but at the same time, it’s important that I maintain my speed. That‘s a big part of my game.”
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