KC Royals top prospect Gavin Cross has historic week

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Gavin Cross, the KC Royals' top prospect, was the team's lone top-100 prospect entering the 2023 season. The promotion of players like Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, and Vinnie Pasquantino weakened the once-strong farm system. A declining return on investment in pitching arms hurt the system, but Cross' addition in 2022 was a huge boost. Last July, the Royals selected him ninth overall, and he easily outperformed his competition in Columbia. He was a popular pick to progress quickly through the minors, beginning this season in High-A Quad Cities. He had a rocky start with the River Bandits, but a historic week has thrust him back into the spotlight. 

Top KC Royals prospect Gavin Cross is back in the headlines for all the right reasons.

Cross' start in Quad Cities may not be best described as rocky. Bad, slow, and poor. Those are possibly better words. Cross had a .545 OPS and 44 strikeouts through the first 30 games of this season, compared to only 10 walks and 10 RBIs. Fans had high expectations for Cross' promotion, especially given how easily he handled Columbia. If I had to re-rank my Royals prospects, Cross would be in second place, especially after Frank Mozzicato's comeback. Cross is a solid outfielder with a strong arm, but his value is at the plate. Because the pitching in High-A was clearly overwhelming him, his long-term prospects in Kansas City suffered. On the other hand, Cross only needed five games to change the course of the 2023 season.

 Cross has been on an absolute power tear since May 14. He has a 1.846 OPS with 10 RBIs and four walks during that time. Five of his ten hits were doubles, four were home runs, and one was a single. Many players can make contact, but few can match Cross' power streak this week. He is the first Midwest League player and the fourth High-A player this season to homer in four games in a row. His home run on May 19 was the icing on the cake, clobbering a ball out of the park.

 With how quickly Cross has flipped the script, there are some questions about what caused the slump. Could it be that hitting coaches are attempting to change his swing? This is a typical reason for early-season batting struggles. Cross is still a malleable player, so working on his swing or trying to address a weakness is not out of the question. It could also be the exact reverse. A player's raw talent can only take him so far. Coaches' tweaks or critiques and Cross' buy-in could result in immediate results at the plate. In any case, the last week of baseball from Cross has been a lot of fun to watch.

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