Q&A: Marten Gasparini, Italia to Royals Prospect

For Marten Gasparini, choosing Royal blue over Savoy Blue was a matter of heart. The 16-year-old loves his native land, but when it comes to sport, baseball in America beats the Azzurri.

Gasparini made history when he inked a contract with the Kansas City Royals last week. An native of northern Italy, he received a $1.3 million signing bonus — a record for a European amateur. A switch-hitting shortstop with elite athleticism, he is rated the 12th-best international prospect by Baseball America. According to reports, scouts feel he might be the best European prospect ever.

Gasparini talked about his love of America’s pastime — and why he chose it over Italy’s sporting passion — this past weekend.


Gasparini on his immediate future: “Right now I’m in Kansas City meeting with people from the Royals. From here I’m going to Arizona, to the complex, then back to Italy to play in the European [Junior] Championships, in Prague. After that, I’ll be back in Arizona, working out.

“I’ll be at [instructional league] in the fall. I’m going to be talking to the coaches I’ll be working with, but right now I don’t know exactly what they’ll want me to work on. All I know is that I’ll be playing baseball. But I‘m sure I‘ll be working on running, fielding, my swing — I’ll need to work on everything.

“My best tool is speed. That’s whether I’m in the field, on the bases, or in the box. I like playing shortstop the most, but if they feel it is better to move me to the outfield, it’s OK. But shortstop is the position I love to play.”

On hitting and the level of competition he‘s faced: “In Europe, usually you can find 85 [mph], maybe high 80s. But for most pitchers, you don’t see 90s. I’m pretty comfortable hitting against mid 80s. I’ve faced some pretty good [breaking pitches].

“There are some good pitchers in the Netherlands. I was also in the Under-18s last year [in Seoul, South Korea] and faced some Japanese and Canadian pitchers who were really good. They had some great curveballs and sliders.

“I try to stay patient at the plate. I try always to wait for my pitch, and when I get to two strikes, I shorten my swing up and use the whole field.”

On choosing baseball over soccer: “Soccer just doesn’t make me feel as good. I think it’s kind of boring, because everybody does it. I have a much better feel for baseball. They’ve told me I could go to [soccer] practices and maybe perform well, but it is more than just [athleticism]. It is technique that makes you go far.

“I played stickball when I was about eight years old. I first started to play baseball when I was 10.”

“I’ve been following [Major League Baseball] every day on the internet. I go to MLB.com and follow games on live streaming. The players I like the most are Derek Jeter, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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8 years ago

Interesting. I’d love to read some more Q&A’s with european players