I got the chance to talk with Martin Fiori, the head coach at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Connecticut. This conversation took place the morning after Frankie was drafted, July 12. We might even get some games against Esat Catholic this spring as he was very excited to see if they could travel to Oklahoma. But even though thats really cool and I’m very excited, its beside the point. The main reason we chatted was because he is the head coach of the Royals first round pick, LHP Frankie Mozzicato.
As a high school coach, I understand what it’s like to work with players and their family on a daily basis. We work hard to help these young guys get a chance to learn about relationships, leadership, and life through baseball. Sometimes we are lucky enough to help a kid get some of his college paid for, or even all of it. Coach Fiori was lucky enough this year to have a player taken seventh overall in the MLB Draft.
Coach Fiori was kind enough to break down Mozzicato with me. He gave an overall scouting report and some good info about the kid and his family off the field.
Here’s the scouting report. Leader. Calm. Relaxed but very competitive. Humble. Grounded. Loose. A glue guy that keeps the team together. Hard worker. Throws effortlessly. Everyone loves him. His teammates love him. He loves his teammates. He gets “it”.
The fastball was working upper 80s during the winter but it got better and better as the spring started. In the first game he touched 91. In the second game, he touched 93 and was working 91. In the third game he was working 91 to 93 and touching 94. And he has such an effortless and smooth delivery. Mozzicato is an extremely hard worker who is very serious about being a good pitcher. He works out at Cressey Performance and they have really helped him to get stronger and increase his ability. Mozzicato is careful with his nutrition a la Alex Gordon.
The curve is a special pitch. It can get anyone out in any count and any situation. It has strong break, moves late, and seems to gain speed as it breaks. I saw an anonymous scout compared the pitch to Andy Petite’s curve. MLB also gave a Frank Viola comparison live on the draft broadcast as it was happening.
The change is what I hadn’t heard much about so I asked Coach Fiori about it. His comment was that it is his third pitch and the one that Mozzicato is working the most on, but it’s far from ordinary. It is a very good pitch itself and comes out of his hand looking just like his fastball. Mozzicato can spot the pitch up just like he can with his fastball and curve as well. It’s not something we need to worry about.
Coach Fiori described Mozzicato as a kid with a baby-face. That wasn’t a shot at the kid, it’s actually a compliment. One thing scouts look for is physical projection. As silly as it sounds, when scouts see a kid with a baby face and not a lot of body hair, they know there is room for more growht because he hasn’t finished physically maturing. There was no doubt in Coach’s mind that Mozzicato will gain velocity as he continues to mature physically.
Mozzicato has movement on every pitch that he throws. Coach Fiori said that it was a pleasure to watch him pitch and watching Mozzicato work was like a game within a game. It became more than did he hit the general spot the catcher showed and became more of did he miss by an inch, two inches, three? Most of the time, he didn’t miss by more than two. Sometimes you get a kid that just has special stuff. When you can relax as a coach and just watch him pitch and enjoy watching him break down hitters, that’s a lot of fun. Mozzicato is a smart pitcher as well. He is aggressive with all his pitches and can break down the best hitters with any combination of his pitches.
Coach Fiori said that the Mozzicato family is an amazing group of people. They are grounded and close-knit. Frankie’s older brother actually didn’t allow a run his senior year at East Catholic two years ago. He pitches at Central Connecticut State University now. Frankie’s goal was to do that same thing, but he ended up giving up a run with two outs in the sixth of his first outing. That was the only run he gave up the entire season. The worst part about that was Mozzicato had 17 strikeouts in that game. That means that every out in his 5.2 innings was recorded was by strikeout.
There are some people who were frustrated with the Royals for this pick thinking there were better players available, and to those people, I say the Royals may have gotten a steal here in the first round.
Mozzicato is a very talented pitcher. The Royals said they thought he was the best LHP available and there are many that agreed. Here’s the deal on his ranking (which rankings are worthless anyway). COVID. This is why the kid isn’t ranked higher on the lists. He didn’t get to play much baseball last year. That kept his name off the list’s provided by the bigger scouting services because he didn’t get to play on the showcase circuit like the top guys did. Once he got back on the field, there were 20 to 40 scouts at his games every time he pitched. East Catholic actually had to remove windscreens and move around equipment to accomidate all the interested scouts.
Once you get over the “low” MLB Draft ranking and look at the talent, this seems like it was a great pick. Think back to the Daniel Lynch pick. A lot of people felt like that was a reach, but we have been discussing him as possibly the best pitcher from that 2018 Royals draft class. And the other day he made the best start by any Royals pitcher this year.
Don’t judge Mozzicato on a theoretical number. Let the kid develop and watch him pitch. He could become a really special player and would not have been there when the first round ended. The Royals had only one chance to draft him. They took him where they could.
I really enjoyed my conversation with Coach Fiori and appreciate him taking the time to interview with us. Royals Farm would like to thank you Coach Fiori for taking the time out of his busy day to chat with us. When it all comes down to it, baseball is about relationships and the people you cross paths with. This is what makes the game great and Coach Fiori and his program are part of that.
Images courtesy from Coach Fiori.