Draft in Mozzicato's forecast

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

May 19—Frank Mozzicato made a life-altering decision in June 2019, when he verbally committed to coach Jim Penders and the UConn baseball team, a childhood dream.

Two years later, a second life-altering decision more consequential than the first is on the horizon for the East Catholic High senior.

Mozzicato — a 6-foot-2 left hander from Ellington who features a fastball that sits in the low 90s — is projected to be selected in the 20-round Major League Baseball amateur draft that starts July 11.

If he is drafted, he will face a decision on his future: join the Huskies and play three years at the collegiate level before entering the draft again, or accept a contract offer from the club that drafts him and jump into the professional ranks immediately.

"I'm open to all opportunities," Mozzicato said. "It's a good problem to have. I'd love to play pro ball, but it will be a tough decision. Coach Penders is a really good coach and a really good person. He's always checking in and making sure everything is good. I used to go to UConn games and watch George Springer and Tim Cate and I fell in love with the team and the place. We'll see what happens."

Frank's older brother Anthony served as his first pitching coach during the brothers' daily practice sessions in the family's backyard.

"It was fun," said Anthony, who pitches at Central Connecticut. "We would always mess around with different grips and different pitches. Things that helped me I would teach him to better his game. It was a great experience."

Frank joined Anthony on the East Catholic varsity team as a sophomore and finished 6-1 in eight appearances with a 1.98 earned run average and a .934 WHIP. He allowed 12 runs — 10 earned — on 13 hits and struck out 59 in 35Ï innings of work to lead East Catholic to a 16-6 record and an appearance in the second round of the Class M state tournament.

Mozzicato attended an elite prospect camp in North Branford on June 19, 2019 and made an immediate impression on the UConn coaching staff. He received a scholarship offer from the Huskies the next day and committed to the program a few hours later.

Mozzicato signed with the Huskies in November.

He would have been the ace of the Eagles rotation as a junior but the spring season was canceled before it began due to the pandemic.

Mozzicato began to attract heavy interest from professional scouts while playing for the EvoShield Canes — one of the most selective travel teams in the country — in the summer and fall of 2020.

"Every single kid on that roster is a draft pick," East Catholic coach Martin Fiori said. "He wasn't the best pitcher on that team. Every pitcher threw 90-99. He was the inning-eater mostly, and it gave him perspective. He had to learn how to prepare on his own. He didn't have his parents there to do his laundry. He had to go to bed on his own and wake up and get his workout in. He grew a lot just by that experience. He changed his body and got on a nutrition plan and he saw a (velocity) jump."

Mozzicato is 6-0 in six starts this season and is on a streak of three consecutive no-hitters.

He has a 0.20 ERA and a 0.514 WHIP. In 35 innings, he's allowed two runs — one earned — on six hits with 12 walks and 82 strikeouts (2.3 per inning).

Mozzicato extended his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 29 with a five-inning no-hitter against Bristol Eastern on Monday. He struck out 11 and walked one.

Mozzicato has gone 22 innings without allowing a hit. He struck out a season-high 17 in a win over Southington, which was ranked third in the New Haven Register/GameTimeCT state poll at the time, on May 11 before San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller.

Mozzicato has worked with pitching coach Kevin Rival, a former pro player, at the Athletic Training Institute in Cromwell for the last three years.

"We work really well together," Mozzicato said. "He knows me really well. He doesn't try to change who you are as a pitcher. He tries to make what you do well even better. He's been through it, so he knows what it takes to make it in the pros. It's nice to have him."

Mozzicato, who is in the process of incorporating a changeup into his arsenal, has drawn dozens of scouts to each of his starts. Even his bullpen sessions attract a crowd of talent evaluators.

"Left-handers are hard to come by, and he's got a good breaking pitch," a veteran National League scout said. "He's got good sink on his fastball. What's amazing is how much he's grown in the last year. I thought he was a college pitcher last year. He was thin and threw 87-88. But following up on him, he's really shot up and his velocity has improved. He's a pretty good pitcher now."

Mozzicato will focus his attention on the MLB draft once his high school career has ended. Until then, he is singularly focused on leading the Eagles to their first state title since 1997.

"I don't let all the stuff around me effect me," Mozzicato said. "It's really cool to have scouts there to watch me, but I'm not going out there to pitch for them. I'm out there to pitch for my guys."

For daily updates on high school sports in JI's coverage area, follow Kyle Maher on Twitter: @KyleBMaher, Facebook: Kyle Maher, and Instagram: @KyleBMaher.