His astounding senior season foreshadowed it. His draft position all but guaranteed it. On Saturday, he cemented it.
Surprising few, Frank Mozzicato, selected seventh overall by the Kansas City Royals in this week’s MLB Draft, will not pitch for UConn, the school he’s been committed to since his sophomore year at East Catholic. The 18-year-old lefthander signed a professional contract with the Royals on Saturday that included a bonus of $3.55 million, a source told to The Courant.
It’s the largest signing bonus ever given to a high school or college player drafted out of Connecticut.
He’ll report to the Arizona rookie league next week.
An Ellington native, Mozzicato led the Eagles to a 25-0 record and Class M state championship this past spring. He went 9-0 with 135 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings, allowed nine hits and finished with a 0.16 ERA. His four consecutive no-hitters got national attention as he soared up draft boards. His his 17-strikeout, one-hit performance in the state title game against Northwestern capped off an impressive ascension.
“I’m just super excited to get my career with Kansas City going,” Mozzicato said on a conference call with media last Sunday. “I know they’ve got a great program, and I’m going to learn more and more. I’m just so excited to go out there and really get after it this year.”
Mozzicato had been projected as a late-first round, early-second round draft pick by most major outlets, but the Royals came calling earlier than expected. Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore praised Mozzicato’s upside, a plus-curveball and personality, but did not shy away from addressing the economic implications of drafting him.
In selecting Mozzicato far earlier than he had expected to go, the Royals believed they’d be able to sign him for less than the slot value for the seventh pick ($5.4 million) and use resources from the team’s allotted bonus pool ($10,917,700) elsewhere throughout the draft.
With Mozzicato signing for just under $2 million less than the slot value, Kansas City’s strategy paid off.
The Royals have already signed their ninth- and 10th-round picks — Louisiana Tech’s Parker Bates and Virginia Tech’s Shane Connolly — for under slot value.
“[We felt] that it may be really beneficial for us, and with the fact that it’s only 20 rounds now, and with the value a lot of players put on themselves economically, that it may be a wise strategy to not only to look at taking the best upside player, pitcher available, but also be able to maximize what we can do later on with the other 19 selections,” Moore said on a call with reporters Sunday. “That’s a part of what we have to consider going forward.”
Mozzicato’s fastball sits in the high 80s to low 90s, topping out at 94. His curveball is considered his best pitch, and Royals director of amateur scouting Lonnie Goldberg called it the in the draft.
Shawn McFarland can be reached at email@example.com.