Royals ink first-round Draft pick Mozzicato

Prep lefty loves Kansas City's 'amazing' barbecue and is ready to make impact

July 18th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- Frank Mozzicato felt right at home when he arrived in Kansas City for the first time this weekend.

For starters, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft likes eating barbeque.

“I think that’s all I’ve ate this whole weekend,” Mozzicato said on Saturday. “It’s amazing. I’m going to love it here, for sure.”

Mozzicato’s eyes are all on the future now that he’s officially a Royal. The lefty out of East Catholic High School in Connecticut wasted no time putting pen to paper. The club announced the signing before Saturday’s game against the Orioles with Mozzicato and his family honored on the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard in the first inning.

According to Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Mozzicato signed for $3.55 million, below the No. 7 slot value of $5,432,400. Signing Mozzicato under slot value allows the Royals to spread their bonus pool around to their other draftees, including LSU commits and local prep players Ben Kudrna and Carter Jensen.

Selecting Mozzicato at No. 7 overall wasn’t all about the money for the Royals, though. The 18-year-old possessed one of the best curveballs in the Draft, and he has legitimate upside that could make him a frontline starter one day. His velocity shot up significantly over the offseason, now sitting at 93 mph, giving scouts reason to believe there’s more in there as he develops.

“You get drawn to the ability,” scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said on Saturday, sitting next to Mozzicato as the Royals introduced him. “He’s got extreme talent, ability to spin a breaking ball, picture perfect delivery, throws a ton of strikes. Those are the first things that draw you. He’s got a ton of ceiling -- he’s got a lot of projection left to him. ... He’s going to do special things. Really, really big things here.

“As you go through the scouting trail, his name keeps coming up and your scouts keep talking about him. And then you get to know the person, who he is, what his aspirations are, where he’s going to go, you try to picture that three to five to 10 years down the line and the ceiling he has as a player and a person, what he can do impact-wise in our city. He made it a really, really easy selection for us. We’re extremely excited he’s here.”

Mozzicato couldn’t get the smile off his face as he met with reporters, with his family and a few high school friends watching. Just a few months ago, he was committed to the University of Connecticut and eyeing a state championship with his high school team. As scouts continued to flock to his games -- the number grew by the day -- he focused on leading his team to the Class M state championship, throwing four straight no-hitters along the way and recording 17 strikeouts in the title game.

Now, he’s the fifth Connecticut high school player to be selected in the first round of the Draft and the second-highest pick among that group, following Bobby Valentine (No. 5 overall to the Dodgers in 1968).

“I didn’t think it was difficult at all,” Mozzicato said on blocking out the Draft noise. “My focus wasn’t the scouts. I wasn’t pitching for the scouts. I was pitching for my teammates. We’ve had a goal since our freshman year to win a state championship, and to have the scouts get in the way of that is selfish. That’s not who I am. My goal was just to focus up and do whatever I can to get the team to win and be a great teammate.”

Coupled with his arsenal and talent, that mindset is what drew the Royals to Mozzicato as the Draft got closer.

“He didn’t care about pitching for the scouts or performing for everyone there, he cared about performing for his teammates and putting them in the best chance to win,” said area scout Casey Fahy, who was by Mozzicato’s side as he signed. “Can’t forget about the fact that he’s got the ability to come in and make an impact on the mound, be a frontline starter, do a lot of things that are going to be special to help this team win championships.”

Next, Mozzicato will head to Arizona with the rest of his Draft class to begin the intake process and ramp back up to baseball activity at the Royals’ facility in Surprise.

For now, he’ll soak up everything Kansas City has to over -- that means more barbeque -- and keep envisioning himself on the mound at Kauffman Stadium one day.

“Coming off the highway, see the big crown on top of the scoreboard,” Mozzicato said. “Just a different atmosphere. I can’t wait to get here and make an impact.”

Other Draft signings

In addition to Mozzicato, the Royals also have deals with some of their other Draft picks. Per Callis, ninth-round pick Parker Bates, an outfielder out of Louisiana Tech, agreed to terms with the club for $17,500, with the No. 259 pick in the Draft valued at $158,600.

Four other picks agreed to terms at $125,000: Left-hander Caden Monke (14th round) out of Arkansas, outfielder River Town (15th round) out of Dallas Baptist, right-hander Harrison Beethe (18th round) out of Texas Christian and left-hander Jack Aldrich (20th round) out of Tulane.

The Royals announced on Sunday morning that they also signed lefty Noah Cameron (seventh round) out of Central Arkansas -- and a St. Joseph, Mo., native -- lefty Shane Connolly (10th round) out of Virginia Tech, lefty Tyson Guerrero (12th round) out of Washington, right-hander Anthony Simonelli (16th round) out of Virginia Tech and shortstop Camryn Williams (19th round) out of Texas. Including Mozzicato, the club has signed 12 of its 21 selections.

The deadline for Draft picks to sign with their respective clubs is Aug. 1.