Mozzicato turns in scoreless pro debut

May 18th, 2022

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Mozzicato makes scoreless pro debut with Columbia (May 18)
Making his first appearance in a competitive game since being selected with the seventh overall pick in last year's Draft, turned in three scoreless innings in Single-A Columbia's 13-2 loss to Myrtle Beach.

A month and one day shy of his 19th birthday, the southpaw struck out three over three innings, working around a hit and three walks. He threw 36 of 57 pitches for strikes.

Kansas City is taking a deliberate approach to its No. 7 prospect's first season, having held him in extended spring training through the first six weeks of the Minor League campaign and keeping a careful eye on his innings. Right-hander Ben Kudrna, the No. 43 pick in last year's Draft out of the Kansas City area, will follow Mozzicato by making his professional debut on Saturday for Low-A Columbia.  -- Josh Jackson

Mozzicato set for pro debut on Wednesday (May 17)
This was excerpted from Anne Rogers' Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Frank Mozzicato, the Royals’ first-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, is set to make his professional debut with Single-A Columbia on Wednesday against Myrtle Beach (Cubs). Mozzicato, ranked as the club's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will join the Fireflies on Tuesday, with the corresponding move sending lefty Rylan Kaufman to High-A Quad Cities.

The Royals purposefully delayed Mozzicato’s debut because they wanted to take his first season slow, with an innings limit to start the season. He’s been pitching in extended spring training in Arizona, facing outside competition and building up to about four innings.

“A lot of it is where we want the innings. We have a target of innings throughout his first full season, so whether we’re managing innings on the backend or front end, or a little bit of a combination of both,” Royals director of player development/field coordinator Mitch Maier said. “Taking it slow the first month, making sure he’s in a good spot to go out was kind of the priority. And then we’ll see and manage those innings the rest of the year.”

Maier said that Ben Kudrna (No. 10 prospect) and Shane Panzini (No. 25), the other prep pitchers the Royals selected in the Draft last year, are set to join Mozzicato at some point soon, likely in the next couple weeks.

“They’re both doing well, too, so it’s just timing it out, looking at the back end of the season and getting their targeted 80-plus innings,” Maier said. -- Anne Rogers

Pasquantino, Parrish shine for clubs (May 13)
The power stroke continued to come through for Vinnie Pasquantino, who clubbed a home run and laced a double for Triple-A Omaha, but it wasn't enough in the team's 6-5 loss in 10 innings to Iowa.

The fifth-ranked Royals prospect mashed a three-run home to right-center to tie the game in the seventh inning. He also plated a run with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and laced his seventh two-bagger of the year in the opening frame. Pasquantino has eight dingers and 27 RBIs through 32 games this season.

Meanwhile, Drew Parrish was twirling a gem in Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 7-0 blanking of Wichita. The lefty tossed seven, three-hit frames without allowing a walk and fanned a season-high nine. The nine strikeouts ties a career-high for Parrish.

The 28th-ranked Royals prospect retired the side in order in the first and set down 16 of the final 17 batters he faced, including a stretch of 13 in a row. Parrish struck out the side in the seventh to complete his outing. He is sporting a 2.13 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and a .158 average against over 38 innings this season. -- Rob Terranova

Injury updates for Lacy, Pratto, Klein (May 9)
Since experiencing back tightness that scratched him from his start on April 23, No. 4 prospect Asa Lacy hasn’t been back on the mound starting for Double-A Northwest Arkansas despite the organization’s optimism that he wouldn’t miss more time. The optimism is still there from club officials, though, that Lacy will be back soon. The lefty is throwing again and will be progressing to side sessions off a mound soon.

“Obviously, we don’t want to push stuff like that to where it becomes a bigger problem,” Royals director of player development/field coordinator Mitch Maier said. “But he’s back throwing, and hopefully he can get back on the mound and in a game here in the coming weeks. It was just something that he was dealing with, and we wanted to make sure we get it to where we can put it in the past and not have him miss a substantial amount, just a few weeks. But he’s in a better spot now.”

The same goes for first baseman and third-ranked prospect Nick Pratto, who was placed on the seven-day IL last week after getting hit in the head by a pitch. He’ll likely still be out for the rest of this week, but Maier said Pratto is feeling better after a few days of rest.

“Any time you get hit in the head, it’s scary, but he’s feeling better and moving in the right direction,” Maier said. “He’s in a good spot to start taking those steps, those return-the-play protocols that go along with that.”

Finally, expect to see right-hander Will Klein with Northwest Arkansas soon, Maier said. The club’s No. 19 prospect was dealing with shin splints when the Royals broke camp in the spring, so he stayed back for rehab and is now back to full health. He’s been pitching in games in Arizona and will go to Double-A as a starter, built up to around three or four innings.

“We didn’t want it to turn into a stress reaction or fracture,” Maier said. “Caught it, got ahead of it, and he’s back ready to go at 100%. He’s thrown in several games down in Arizona already, and he’ll be ready to go soon. It’ll be good to have him back.” -- Anne Rogers

Parrish sets starting pitching tone with consistency (May 9)
In the last week, several Royals pitching prospects have turned in solid starts after rough starts to the season. Lefty Anthony Veneziano (No. 17 prospect) delivered five scoreless innings Sunday, allowing just two hits and three walks with three strikeouts, getting back on track after allowing 21 runs in 13 innings across his first five starts of the season. Right-hander Alec Marsh (No. 12) allowed just one run on two hits in four innings with eight strikeouts last Friday, lowering his ERA to 5.95 through five starts this season. Lefty Austin Cox (No. 18) allowed two runs in five innings Saturday.

One of the most consistent starters through the first month of the season, though, has been left-hander Drew Parrish for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The Royals’ No. 28 prospect, Parrish delivered the farm system’s first seven-inning start on Saturday against Springfield. Not only was it a long and scoreless start, it was dominant: Only two hits allowed, with one walk and four strikeouts.

Parrish has a 2.61 ERA through six starts this season, which ranks fifth in the Texas League, and he’s thrown the most innings (31) out of the qualified pitchers who rank before him in ERA. After a strong 2021 campaign (2.83 ERA in 22 games at two levels), Parrish has only continued that consistency in 2022 -- and it’s likely going to earn him a promotion to Triple-A soon. -- Anne Rogers

Pratto lands on 7-day IL after taking pitch to the head (May 5)
Royals No. 3 prospect Nick Pratto is headed to the 7-day IL after being hit in the head with a pitch on May 4.

MLB’s No. 60 overall prospect was plunked on the top of his helmet with a fastball by lefty Tanner Tully in his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning in Triple-A Omaha’s 5-4 loss to Columbus. He stayed in the game for the next three frames before being pulled in the top of the fifth.

Pratto is batting .250/.323/.477 with five home runs and and 17 RBIs in 23 games. -- Stephanie Sheehan

Loftin lifts Naturals for good (May 5)
Nick Loftin has been a man of extra bases over the last couple of nights. 

Kansas City's No. 6 prospect notched back-to-back three-hit performances. On May 4, the shortstop tallied three doubles; the next day he was only a double short of a cycle. 

In Northwest Arkansas' 9-6 win over Springfield, Loftin was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs. 

The 23-year-old started simple with a single in the third inning. It took him until the seventh inning to get his next hit, but he made it count with a two-run homer to left-center that put the Naturals up to stay. For good measure, the right-handed batter tallied a triple to right field. 

Although Loftin fell short on the cycle, the third three-hit performance and eighth multihit game are far from something to be upset about. -- Ethan Sands

Pratto, Pasquantino power Storm Chasers (April 30)
Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto were quite the 1-2 punch in Triple-A Omaha's 12-5 win over visiting Toledo. The duo combined for two homers, six hits and four RBIs with Pasquantino falling a triple shy of the cycle.

Pratto answered his teammates two-run blast with one of his own ... and then some. Baseball's No. 60 overall prospect slugged a 461-foot shot in the Storm Chasers' five-run second inning, his fourth of the season. Pratto added two more singles and a walk while scoring four times. The 23-year-old has consecutive multihit games and is hitting .241 with a .771 OPS in 79 at-bats.

The No. 5 Royals prospect opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the first, singled in the second and stroked a ground-rule double in the fourth. He snapped a 2-for-18 stretch and improved his slash line to .282/.398/.507 with eight extra-base hits, three homers and 17 RBIs in 21 games. -- Michael Avallone

Parrish tosses six dominant innings for Travelers (April 26)
Drew Parrish
allowed one hit and faced two over the minimum in his best outing of the season. The No. 29 Royals prospect surrendered a third-inning single, struck out six and did not walk a batter in Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 6-5 extra-inning loss to Amarillo. Parrish tossed 76 pitches -- 55 for strikes -- and retired the final 10 batters in his longest outing of the year..

It was the second consecutive strong performance for the 24-year-old, who surrendered one earned run on one hit over five innings in a win against Frisco on April 20. Parrish has yielded one earned run in his last 11 frames and has a 3.32 ERA, an 0.89 WHIP and is holding opponents to a .145 average in his first four starts.

The Florida State product posted a 2.83 ERA and fanned 118 in 98 2/3 innings between High-A Quad Cities and Northwest Arkansas last year. -- Michael Avallone

Gonzalez fills up the box score for Quad Cities (April 24)
When a team scores 18 runs as High-A Quad Cities did, offensive contributions aren't hard to find. But Herard Gonzalez took things to a whole other level in his club's 18-1 win over Wisconsin.

The 20-year-old homered twice, doubled and established career highs with six RBIs and four runs. Gonzalez walked three times and reached safely in all six of his plate appearances. The offensive eruption improved his slash line to .310/.463/.595 with five extra-base hits, 12 runs and 11 RBIs in 13 games.

It was the first multihomer game for Gonzalez, who went deep seven times in 90 games last year with Single-A Columbia. -- Michael Avallone

Loftin, Massey, Zerpa lead the way for Naturals (April 22)
In a game that saw 16 hits and 13 runs, it was Nick Loftin, Michael Massey and Angel Zerpa that shined a little brighter than the rest. Loftin mashed a grand slam as part of a two-hit night, while driving in a career-high five runs. The sixth-ranked Royals prospect has 10 RBIs through 11 games this season.

Massey opened the scoring for Double-A Northwest Arkansas with a two-run dinger in the opening frame. The No. 23 Royals prospect also laced a two-run double to right field as part of a five-run third inning. The four-RBI performance marks a season high for the 24-year-old.

Zerpa turned in arguably his best outing in a Naturals uniform. The 22-year-old lefty twirled five scoreless frames, working around four hits and a walk while fanning five. The No. 13 Royals prospect has now posted back-to-back shutout outings after being touched up in his first start of the season. -- Rob Terranova

Lacy fans seven for Naturals (April 17)
After running into some self-inflicted trouble in his first start of the season thanks to two hit batsmen and three walks on April 12, baseball's No. 71 overall prospect Asa Lacy responded well. The left-hander struck out seven batters for the first time since he fanned nine on July 3, 2021, while allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Kansas City's No. 4 prospect got opposing hitters swinging for all but the last of his seven K's. Lacy piled up five strikeouts between the first and second innings before adding one in the fifth and another in the sixth. The Texas A&M product finished his outing with 84 pitches, 56 for strikes, in Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 5-1 loss to Wichita. -- Tyler Maun

Pasquantino reaches four times, drives in five (April 17)
Having notched just one multihit game through his first 11 played this season, fifth-ranked Royals prospect Vinnie Pasquantino came up big on Sunday afternoon for Triple-A Omaha in a 7-4 win over Louisville. Following a walk in the bottom of the second inning, Pasquantino singled to right field to drive in a run in the fourth, doubled to right to plate another in the sixth and then cleared the bases with a three-run triple into the right field corner in the seventh.

The five RBIs matched Pasquantino's total through his first 10 games and equaled a personal-best mark he'd set three times before, most recently on Aug. 8, 2021 with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. -- Tyler Maun

Marsh strikes out nine in first Double-A outing (April 14)
Coming off a year full of disappointing injuries, right-hander learned from his previous Spring Trainings and intentionally didn’t go as hard during those weeks in Arizona. He was saving his energy for the season -- and so far, so good for the Royals’ No. 12 prospect. Marsh allowed two runs on two hits in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday night in Double-A Northwest Arkansas’ win over Wichita (the Twins’ Double-A affiliate).

Marsh was pinpointing strikes with his five-pitch arsenal, striking out nine, walking two and becoming the first Naturals starter to pitch into the fifth inning this year. Marsh, the Royals’ supplemental second-round pick in 2019, boasts a powerful arm and has a true feel for his complement of pitches. He was still hitting 96 mph with his fastball in the fifth inning Wednesday, and his changeup is becoming a true weapon, especially against left-handed batters. If Marsh stays healthy this year, he is one pitching prospect who could move quickly. -- Anne Rogers

Reigning MiLB home run champ swats his first of ’22 (April 10)
MJ Melendez rose up prospect rankings after leading the Minors with 41 home runs last season and started his title defense in Triple-A Omaha’s sixth game.

The Royals’ No. 2 prospect launched an opposite-field solo homer in the fourth inning, his first of the season. Melendez has gotten off to a slow start in 2022, going just 3-for-19 in his first five games, but has plenty of time to sort out his swing.

In addition to the 41 long balls, Melendez had 22 doubles, 103 RBIs, 75 walks and a .288/.386/.625 slash line with a 1.011 OPS in his breakout season. -- Nick Trujillo

Pratto homers twice (April 7)
Only one player in the Minor Leagues compiled more extra-base hits last season than Nick Pratto, and that was Bobby Witt Jr. If Pratto keeps this up, it shouldn’t be long until he joins his former teammate in Kansas City.

The power-hitting Pratto picked up right where he left off at Triple-A Omaha, homering in both halves of Thursday’s doubleheader split with Indianapolis at Victory Field. Both the Royals’ No. 3 prospect’s (No. 62 overall) first two hits of the season went for homers, Pratto launching a three-run dinger in Game 1 and adding a solo shot in the Storm Chasers’ 6-2 Game 2 win. Pratto finished 3-for-8 with 6 RBIs in the twin bill. More »

Stacked Minor League rosters revealed (April 4)
With Triple-A Opening Day on Tuesday and the rest of the Minor League season following on Friday, the Royals unveiled their preliminary rosters at each level. Triple-A Omaha's roster is stacked, with three of Kansas City's top four hitting prospects set to be in the everyday lineup: No. 2 MJ Melendez, No. 3 Nick Pratto and No. 5 Vinnie Pasquantino. The pitching should excel there, too, with No. 19 prospect Austin Cox headlining a staff that also includes camp standouts Jose Cuas and Jace Vines.

Double-A Northwest Arkansas is loaded with pitching, too, with lefty Asa Lacy (No. 4), right-hander Alec Marsh (No. 13) and lefty Anthony Veneziano (No. 18) highlighting the rotation. Second baseman Michael Massey (No. 24), shortstop Maikel Garcia (No. 22) and center fielder Nick Loftin (No. 6) should provide the staff with elite defense.

The Royals’ top two Draft picks last year, prep pitchers Frank Mozzicato (No. 8) and Ben Kudrna (No. 11), as well as fourth-rounder Shane Panzini (No. 27), will stay in extended spring camp for now, as their progressions have been intentionally slow. Catcher Carter Jensen (No. 17), the Kansas City native drafted in the third round, will begin the year at Single-A Columbia.

Right-hander Will Klein, the Royals' No. 20 prospect who is coming off a dominating year at High-A Quad Cities, wasn't on any of the rosters because he's monitoring a shin splint injury. The organization doesn't have a timeline for him to return, in part because it wants to be cautious at this point in his career. -- Anne Rogers