Going clubbing: Defensive limitations place Zangari at first base; injuries have kept him from faster advancement. (Tiffany Wintz/South Side Hit Pen)
When playing for Carl Albert H.S. in Midwest City, Okla., Zangari could do it all. As a pitcher, he lit up the radar gun at 95 mph, though he had difficulty throwing strikes due to not finding a consistent release point; he also caught, though it was apparent with his size that he’d be better suited as a first baseman. He hit 19 homers during his senior season, including two in the state’s 5-A semifinal game.
The White Sox coveted Zangari’s power-wielding bat and selected him in the sixth round of the 2015 draft, paying a significant over-slot bonus to pry him from his commitment with Oklahoma State University. Zangari later played for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls that year, as he combined to slash .316/.358/.481 in 54 games with 15 doubles, a triple, six homers, 41 RBIs, 14 walks (6.1%) and 52 strikeouts (22.6%).
The 2016 season was difficult for Zangari, as he began with Kannapolis but struggled terribly, mustering a .166/.247/.314 slash line with 20 walks (8.1%) and 106 strikeouts (42.7%) in just 57 games. Though he did right the ship somewhat after a demotion to Great Falls, he finished the year with a combined .209/.287/.367 line in 110 games with 15 homers, 51 RBIs, 41 walks (8.7%) and 176 strikeouts (37.2%). Zangari then underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2017, which forced him to miss that entire season. After missing a part of the 2018 season due to injury, he literally destroyed the Pioneer League in 17 games as he slashed .262/.324/.723 with nine homers, 22 RBIs, six walks (8.1%) and just 16 strikeouts (21.6%). After earning a call-up to Kannapolis after a three-homer game with the Voyagers, Zangari got hit on the wrist on just his second at-bat and had to miss the rest of the season.
Zangari, in part due to missing so much playing time during the past couple years, struggled in his year-long stint with Kannapolis in 2019. In 85 games totaling 290 at-bats with the Intimidators, he slashed just .203/.314/.428 with 18 doubles, one triple, 15 homers, 38 RBIs, 44 walks (12.8%) and 115 strikeouts (33.4%). The power’s still there, but he won’t be able to tap into it fully unless he can can consistently get that strikeout rate below 30%. Zangari was just a tad older than league competition this year, so a promotion to a more favorable hitting park like Winston-Salem’s certainly isn’t out of the question for 2020.