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Royals Rumblings - News for July 12, 2021

Well...yesterday happened.

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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announces Frank Mozzicato as the seventh overall pick for the Kansas City Royals during the 2021 Major Leauge Baseball Draft at Bellco Theater at Colorado Convention Center on Sunday, July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announces Frank Mozzicato as the seventh overall pick for the Kansas City Royals during the 2021 Major Leauge Baseball Draft at Bellco Theater at Colorado Convention Center on Sunday, July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Royals Rumblings - News for July 12, 2021

Alright, first thing’s first: the Kansas City Royals stunned everyone by selecting a Connecticut high school left-handed pitcher, Frank Mozzicato, who is a real person and not simply a neural network’s attempt at making the most Italian name of all time, for the seventh overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Here’s a scouting report on him from Baseball America:

Mozzicato didn’t pitch at big national events last summer, which kept him under the radar. At the time, he was mostly throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s with good feel for a curveball and looked like a safe bet to get to Connecticut. Instead, his stock skyrocketed this spring, when he rattled off a stretch of no-hitters in four straight starts and ended the regular season averaging 21.7 K/9. One of the younger players in the class (he turns 18 on June 19), Mozzicato has plenty of projection arrows pointing up, with easy arm action, a low-effort delivery and more space to fill out his projectable frame. That should help him add to a fastball that has trended up this spring, with Mozzicato now sitting at 88-91 mph and reaching 93. His separator is a plus curveball, a 74-80 mph pitch that’s one of the best breaking balls in the country from a high school lefty. It’s a tight spinning pitch with top-to-bottom action, sharp bite and good depth to rack up whiffs. Mozzicato already manipulates speeds on his curveball based on the situation like a veteran, with an ability to consistently execute and command the pitch well beyond his years. Mozzicato mostly carves through hitters with his fastball and curve, but he has shown feel for a low-80s changeup that could develop into an average or better pitch. Mozzicato’s pitchability is advanced for his age but he needs to improve his fastball command, though his athleticism and repeatable delivery should help him do so. Mozzicato doesn’t have the present velocity of some other pitchers, but his combination of youth, delivery, physical projection and a knockout curveball have catapulted him into Day One consideration.

Continuing the prospect news train, Bobby Witt Jr. played in the Futures Game alongside Nick Pratto. Witt was mic’d up and hit a couple of absolute lasers that unfortunately turned into outs.

Whit Merrifield was selected to the 2021 All-Star Game as a replacement for the injured Jose Altuve. He was informed and congratulated rather awkwardly.

“I was in the shower last night after the game and Mike came running in and told me,” Merrifield said. “And nobody really let me get out of the shower. Everybody came in and congratulated me and hugged me, which was a really awkward celebration, but it was — that’s how it went down.”

A full decade after being drafted, Bubba Starling is playing for Team USA in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. At the Kansas City Star, Vahe Gregorian wrote about what it meant for Starling and reflected on what can fairly be considered an underwhelming career.

Through Friday, he was hitting .258 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 27 games. Now age 28, he’s enjoying a mentoring role, seeking to help teammates get to Kansas City and stay up there ... even as he retains an abiding hope that a more enduring stay in the majors remains possible for him.

In the meantime, there is something between consolation and reward in this Olympics berth, something that seems a little like karma after the certain indomitable resilience he has maintained despite all that has gone against him in the game.

At The Athletic, Alec Lewis came up with some hypothetical trades for Whit Merrifield and Scott Barlow at this year’s trade deadline. Here’s one:

IF/OF Whit Merrifield to the Yankees for CF Kevin Alcantara, 2B Ezequiel Duran and RHP Yoendrys Gómez

Lewis: Merrifield is the Royals’ best trade chip and arguably the best second baseman who could be acquired at the deadline. For the Royals to do this — to trade big-league talent for prospects, which Moore said this past week he does not relish doing — the offer would have to blow them away, so how about Alcantara (a 6-foot-6 toolsy outfielder), Duran (a second baseman with pop) and Gómez (a 21-year-old power righty with secondary pitches who could eventually earn a spot in the rotation)?

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Question of the day

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