Twenty-nine athletes got their "dream come true" moment Sunday, hearing their name called in the first round of the major league baseball draft and Ellington’s Frank Mozzicato was one of them.
The left handed pitcher was selected in the first round (7th overall) by the Kansas City Royals, making him the highest drafted Connecticut high schooler since Bobby Valentine went 5th in 1968.
But before his senior season started this spring, no one knew his name.
“Everybody was like 'you're a lefty, you’ve got to pitch,' I was like alright,” said Mozzicato in an interview at his home the day before the 2021 MLB draft. “8, 9-year-old kid not knowing, you just go where coach tells you to play.”
That's the way it's always been for Mozzicato. Low key, low maintenance, high character.
“You know, he always just played fun,” said Martin Fiori, Mozzicato’s coach at East Catholic High School. “He always had a glove in his hand or a basketball in his hand... Always wanting to run the bases and wanting to get foul balls and being with the big guys on the big field because that's where his brother was."
He learned his pitches in the stands of his older brother’s baseball games. By his sophomore year, he was good, but not great. His junior season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The off season before his senior year is when things changed.
“Once Frankie kind of hit that 90 number, then the 90 became 91 and then it was 93 six times and then it was 94 four times and you know it just slowly continued to climb,” said Fiori.
When his final high school season started, he was a UConn commit looking for a state championship. By the end he’d thrown four no-hitters and drew dozens of scouts to his Monday starts.
“Six months ago, if this is where you told me I’d be I’d be like 'no way you're joking,'” said Mozzicato.
Now he’s poised for a big payday: the slot value is $5.432 million. Mozzicato has until August 1 to decide if he plans to sign or head to college.
His low-90s fastball caught scouts' attention but it’s his high-spin curve ball that set him apart. He spent the week before the draft visiting with teams on the West Coast: San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers and expected a late first round pick or possibly second round. Seventh overall was unexpected until moments before it happened.
Mozzicato capped his high school career with the Eagles 25-0 undefeated season and a shutout state championship win, but this story book ending is really just the beginning for the lefty out of Connecticut.
“It's been awesome and a crazy experience,” said Mozzicato. “You know I’ve had all the support behind me so everything was super easy this year and I can just be me and have fun and go out and play baseball.”