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Baseball: Legacy’s Cross close to getting back to taking hacks

Wyatt Cross heard all of the rumblings about his ability to swing the bat.

So he did something about it. Six days a week and sometimes twice a day he was in the cage honing his craft, hoping that by the time the June Major League Baseball draft rolled around, his stock would increase.

“All the work I put in during the offseason, I was really confident that I could come out and hit it better than I had before,” said Cross, who will graduate from Legacy at the end of the month.

The work may have done more harm than good. While the swing and his overall approach at the plate improved, he spent so much time perfecting it that he injured his back. Doctors diagnosed the University of North Carolina-bound catcher with an edema on his transverse process (something very similar to what Broomfield gymnast Sarah Holbrook deals with in having Bertolotti’s Syndrome).

“I was putting a lot of pressure on the bottom part of my spine and it was getting overworked,” said Cross, who throws right-handed, but hits left-handed. “Thankfully there is no structural damage or anything along that line, but it is getting better day by day.”

The injury didn’t prevent the strong-armed catcher from catching, but kept him out of the batting order all season for Ty Giordano’s Lightning.

“It definitely hurt us,” Giordano said on more than one occasion this spring.

In April, with his doctor’s permission, Cross stepped in against live pitching for batting practice and in that session hit six balls out of the Lightning’s big park. But something just wasn’t quite right and he still wasn’t 100 percent, so he opted to continue his defensive presence and not take any chances.

With the draft looming, and through his work in physical therapy, Cross plans to have a few more workouts in front of the scouts to show them the progress he has made at the plate.

And despite the fact he has had limited time in the batters box, he is confident that he can step right in a not skip a beat.

“I should be able to pick up right where I left off,” he said. “If everything works out, I can bring the scouts out to the school and go through a full workout, go through the mechanics and show them what they have to work with.”

As far as the draft, Cross has seen all of the projections that have him going anywhere from late in the first round all the way to the fifth round and takes with a grain of salt analysis like this one from minorleaguebaseball.com

“Wyatt Cross is the next best prep catcher. He is on the other end of the spectrum compared to Chris Betts. Cross is more in the Austin Hedges mold, where he has a huge arm, good actions behind the dish and a questionable bat. He has some bat speed but his swing mechanics need work. There is potential for the bat to catch up, as he’s a good athlete and hits the ball hard at times but his value is in the glove and arm.”

“It’s kind of all over the place and I’m really not sure,” said Cross, who is also undecided about whether he will go straight to pro ball or head to North Carolina. “Right now I’m just focused on getting healthy and playing baseball.”

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