I knew last night was going to get nutty and I kind of figured at least one team would do something crazy I just…didn’t expect it to be Kansas City and I definitely didn’t expect it to be in the drafting of LHP Frank Mozzicato. Here’s the link to our write up from last night after the Royals announced the selection of Mozzicato.
Because Mozzicato is a prep pitcher who derived his status from a spring that saw him take a “meteoric” rise through the draft rankings, there’s really only so much we know about him. What we know is this:
- Fastball lives 90-92 and tops out around 94
- There is plenty of room left for projection here; Mozzicato just recently turned 18 and is 6′ 3″ but weighs just 170 pounds
- The curveball may actually be the best curveball in the draft and registers borderline elite spin rates; reminds me a bit of Rylan Kaufman in that regard
- I actually think the slider and changeup (on a limited viewing) are promising offerings; I wouldn’t give either a 50 at the moment but there may be a 50 FV potential for both pitches
- Mozzicato threw 4 consecutive no-hitters this spring at his high school in Connecticut
- FanGraphs ranked him as this draft’s 29th best prospect and 2nd best LHP prospect (Kiley McDaniel had him 21st overall)
- Dayton Moore, without saying it directly, pretty well implied that the Royals will save some slot bonus money with this pick (duh) to use on another player later in the draft
Now…I know the Royals didn’t take the player everyone wanted them to. Kumar Rocker was available for the Royals to draft with the 7th overall pick and they passed on him. It wasn’t just Rocker that they passed on, though. No, they passed on highly-touted prep SS Kahlil Watson and Brady House too. I mentioned in our pre-draft coverage that the smoke around Rocker to the Royals at #7 felt too strong. Like it was a decoy…or something. The Royals didn’t even appear to be interested in the other name they kept getting connected to in Brady House. Which…really makes you wonder…what is the plan now? I want to make sure I explain this as best as I can because I feel like there are a lot of folks that are stuck on the “Royals are cheap” train unfairly.
Imagine if your parents gave you $10 to spend at the fireworks tent as a kid. The bag of the big M-80’s cost $8. You really want the M-80’s because they make a huge boom and, well, booms are fun. With your left over $2 you’re able to buy two $1 bags of smoke bombs. That’s a fun 4th of July.
OR, you can buy two boxes of 100 firecrackers at $3/piece, a $2 box of bottle rockets, and still have money left over for two $1 bags of smoke bombs. This is the strategy the Royals are (apparently) going to deploy during this year’s draft. Major League Baseball told the Royals they were allowed to spend $10,917,700 on their draft selections within the first 10 rounds of the draft. The “value” of the 7th overall pick, as told by MLB, was worth $5,432,400. That’s the bag of M-80’s. The Royals chose bottle rockets and firecrackers instead. It’s not that they aren’t going to spend their money. They’re just going to divvy it up among more players than spending it all on one player.
Make sense? No? Good.
So, what kind of goodies does the firework stand have left?
- Will Taylor, CF, Dutch Fork HS (SC)
Will Taylor is my favorite player left in this draft. It is entirely possible that the Royals decided to save some money at #7 in an effort to bribe Taylor into skipping school (he’s committed to Clemson to play football and baseball) and join the ranks of professional baseball. The problem is that there are 6 teams that get to pick before the Royals and I imagine that they all want to pay Will Taylor. Taylor is a borderline 80-grade runner and can really go get it in CF. He has a pretty good hit tool but the power hasn’t really come around yet. He reminds me quite a bit of Trea Turner. Any scenario where Will Taylor winds up in the Royals system is an automatic win for Kansas City.
- Matt Mikulski, LHP, Fordham
This would be another opportunity to save some money seeing as Mikulski just wrapped up his senior year and doesn’t really have the leverage of going back to school. Undrafted as a junior in 2020, Mikulski totally reworked his delivery as a senior and transformed himself as a pitcher. He runs his fastball into the upper-90’s with consistency and has command of three offspeed pitches. That ought to be a sales pitch enough, frankly, but I can understand wanting to know where the rest of the money is going if they do get Mikulski at either 43 or 66.
- Izaac Pacheco, SS, Friendswood HS (TX)
This is the next most underrated prep bat left in my opinion. He reminds me a bit of Nolan Gorman, who sort of inexplicably fell to St. Louis at #19 overall back in 2018. Gorman has some of the best raw power in MiLB and Pacheco, while being a bigger person, sort of fits a similar profile as Gorman. I would be ecstatic if the Royals could draw him away from his commitment to Texas A&M, who has a new head coach in Jim Schlossnagle (formerly of TCU).
- Connor Norby, 2B, East Carolina
I love this kid. Norby hit .415/.484/.659/1.143 with 15 HR and 15 2B this spring for East Carolina. He struck out 34 times and walked 33 and had 18 SB to his credit. This is 100% the type of college bat that Kansas City should be looking to add to their system. He would immediately slot into the Royals top 12-13 prospects for me and could move through the minor leagues fairly quickly.
- Lonnie White Jr., OF, Malvern Prep (PA)
Another guy with a football commitment (Penn State), the Royals are probably gonna have to fork over some cash to get White out of school. He’s got a good track record of performance including against premium velocity. He is an incredible athlete and his movements look advanced in the field even if he’s a little raw.
- Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
I’m honestly kind of surprised that Ethan Wilson is still here. He only hit 8 HR this spring but his raw power is immense. He cut his K% down below 10% this spring and showed the ability to hit for average and a knack for getting on base. He’s sort of limited defensively, meaning he definitely won’t be caught in CF, but I really do think he can move through the minors pretty quickly and be a very serviceable big league bat in the bottom half of a lineup very quickly.
- Ben Kudrna, RHP, Blue Valley Southwest HS (KS)
I think Kudrna is the second best prep pitching prospect in this draft class. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 and while his breaking ball isn’t fantastic, he’s shown a great ability to command the pitch and he’s so fluid that he should be able to create a better shape for it fairly easily. He’s got a strong commitment to LSU so signability could be an issue, but luckily the Royals have some cash available now.
- Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Fabian could legitimately go back to Florida without the right bonus pool and, again, KC seems to have some extra cash at the moment. Fabian was one of my favorite options for KC this spring before strikeouts became an issue. He’s a fantastic defender in CF and has an immense amount of raw power. If he can keep his K% down, he’s an absolute steal out of the first round.
- Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace Prep (NJ)
I’m not the biggest fan of Solometo but the national pundits love him and he’s a highly-touted prep LHP, which means the Royals are interested, apparently…another expensive sign that the Royals can suddenly afford this late in the draft.
Again, I have no clue where the Royals go at #43. We know they’ve been connected to Taylor but I’m not entirely sure he’ll still be there. I think Detroit taking Madden helps, and so does Cincinnati taking Jay Allen, but we shouldn’t assume. Maybe the Royals have a list of 7 guys they are 100% confident of 1 getting to them. Seems like a poor strategy, all things considered. Jackson Merrill coming off the board in the first round may have thrown a wrench in their plans as well. Who knows.
As soon as the Royals are done making their picks today, I’ll have more analysis and reactions out. I have a workshop for my real job today so I may be a little delayed but Drew should be around to help out with player breakdowns and such. I like Frank Mozzicato a lot. Even if he wasn’t the consensus option at #7, the kid has a ton of projection left and he’s a guy anyone would love to have in their system. Let’s be patient and see this plan through before we make too many judgements. My initial reaction was pretty similar to yours, but I’m willing to keep my pitchfork locked up for another day.
Photo Credits: AP Photo/Gary McCullough