On Sunday, the Royals used the seventh pick in the draft to select left-handed pitcher Frank Mozzicato out of East Catholic High School in Connecticut. The selection was a surprise, as no major publications had the 18-year old among the top 15 prospect in the draft, but the move may signal a desire by the Royals to go overslot with one of the later picks to grab a player that has slid down due to signability concerns. Here are some reactions to the pick.
Scouting Director Lonnie Goldberg likes his upside
“You can dream on the kid,” Goldberg said. “You can dream on him and his ability. The makeup is off the charts. As we continued to scout him through the spring. You could tell the scouting staff was gravitating to him a lot more. He can really, really spin the breaking ball. He’s super athletic on the mound. We just felt he was the best left-handed pitcher in the class.”
“There’s some guys when you’re evaluating and the question comes up, ‘Are you looking at the finished product? Is this what he’s going to be? Is there ceiling left to him?’ With him, it’s the exact opposite,” Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. “He just has all those qualities, and then you couple that with his makeup. He’s just got an infectious personality, smiling all the time, extremely humble. He’s just a really, really special kid. I think we got a steal.”
Mozzicato was stunned.
#Royals first round pick Frank Mozzicato had around 30 people at his house tonight & heard from area scout Casey Fahy that he was going 7th. Said he felt the house shake when he told everyone.— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) July 12, 2021
"I'm speechless. When I heard my name called, it was crazy. I'm at a loss for words."
Royals top pick LHP Frank Mozzicato said he had a lot of contact with Royals, including a 90 minute Zoom call a few days before the draft, but admits he was “a little surprised” to go so early “because six months ago I didn’t even think I’d be in this position.” #Royals— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) July 12, 2021
Alec Lewis gets some insight on how the Royals surprised the baseball world.
“As we all know, you can never have enough pitching,” Moore said. “We’re going to have to take guys who have a chance to be No. 1 and No. 2 starters. You can look at certain college players, and you know they’re going to make it to the major leagues. But really, what’s their upside? No. 4 or No. 5 starters? No. 4 and No. 5 starters aren’t going to win championships. We’re going to be really aggressive. (Royals owner) John Sherman has spoken about sustained success. I’ve spoken about it. (Manager) Mike Matheny has, too. If you want sustained success, you’ve got to fill the pipeline with upside talent, and we’ve got to transition it and develop it properly. It’s going to take a little bit longer. We understand that. But we’re willing to pay the price for what we have to do long-term.”
Ben Badler at Baseball America likes the kid, but was surprised he went so high.
Instant Analysis: Wow! I love Frank Mozzicato. He’s young for the class, he’s athletic, has an easy delivery, good physical projection to add more to a fastball that’s sitting 88-91, touching 93 and his curveball is one of the best in the draft, a plus pitch that should miss a ton of bats. It’s not the biggest present velocity, but Mozzicato has a ton of projection arrows pointing the right way. Still, it’s surprising to see him go this high, especially with players like Vanderbilt righthander Kumar Rocker or prep shortstops Kahlil Watson and Brady House still available.
The kid has some upside.
Royals GM Dayton Moore makes it clear without coming out and saying it that taking Mozzicato will free up money to spend in later rounds. Also says Mozzicato has what they see as maybe the best CB in the class.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 12, 2021
Fun lefty, great feel for spin, projectable, was 88-91 for me mostly, but curve might get to a 7 and he should add velo in a real pro throwing program. https://t.co/pIYMvZLXCO— Jeffrey Paternostro (@jeffpaternostro) July 11, 2021
7. Royals: Frank Mozzicato, LHP, CT HS. THE projection lefty and THE riser of this class, super easy operation with fast arm and athleticism, up to 94 this spring with plus breaker. This is the shocker. #PGDraft— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) July 12, 2021
Mozzicato threw four straight no-hitters at one point, and made Rich Eisen a fan.
Hey @Royals fans, here’s your first round draft choice — a kid out of Connecticut who is all about winning and team work, not about personal stats.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) July 12, 2021
Congrats @FrankMozzicato on not being jinxed by me! https://t.co/FdVa9VwGdS
There aren’t a ton of high draftees from Connecticut.
I believe Frank Mozzicato is the highest-dafted high school player from Connecticut since Bobby Valentine, No. 5, in 1968.— Dom Amore (@AmoreCourant) July 12, 2021
Fans were mostly upset the team didn’t grab Vanderbilt right-hander Kumar Rocker.
If one of the three they passed on is a stud and Mozzicato is a bust, that’s the kind of move that can end a GM’s career.— Kurtis Seaboldt (@KSeaboldt) July 12, 2021
Drafting Frank Mozzicato in the first round completely goes against Dayton Moore's "we're not trading Whit Merrifield because we're going to contend very soon" take. Why not take a college pitcher that could help you soon, like with Brandon Finnegan? No idea what Dayton is doing.— Ryan Landreth (@ryan_landreth) July 12, 2021
Tfw u take Frank Mozzicato over Kumar Rocker pic.twitter.com/ury003prth— Lifelong Padres Enthusiast (@greatstuffTM) July 11, 2021
I just want to point out that there’s actually a chance that the Royals save a ton of money here AND get a kid that’s a top 10 prospect in the system AND another kid that can slot into their top 10 at #43. I’m calmer than I was an hour ago. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. https://t.co/UZKUh6iTSN— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) July 12, 2021