Two KC Royals, Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield, played in the All-Star Game Tuesday night. Perez put on a show of power in the Home Run Derby the evening before.
But if those baseball moments didn’t give Kansas City fans at least a brief respite from this dismal season, the Royals’ efforts to land talent in the 2021 amateur draft probably did. From Sunday evening until mid-afternoon Tuesday, the club dished up three days of major and minor surprises.
The Royals rattled the baseball world with a shocking first round pick Sunday, continued surprising Monday with the type of players they selected, then reversed field Tuesday.
When all was said and done, what did Kansas City do?
Day 1: The KC Royals shake up the 2021 draft with their first selection.
Even casual followers of this year’s overstock of mock drafts knew who Kansas City’s first round pick would be. All Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker, whose name appeared next to “Kansas City” in almost every reputable projection, had to do to become a Royal was sit back and wait for KC to choose him.
And he was available when the time came, undrafted by the first six clubs to pick and destined for Kansas City. But the Royals had another plan, one even a pitcher as fine as Rocker couldn’t change. Some people will say they went rogue.
The club spent its enviably high seventh-overall pick on Frank Mozzicato, a barely-18 lanky lefthander just out of high school who’d manage to avoid a lot of radar. The selection sent fans and baseball media scrambling for the Internet to find out just who Mozzicato might be.
They discovered an excellent pitcher who may eventually vindicate the Royals, a team not known for much recent success with high school hurlers. He threw four straight no-hitters this season, went 9-0 with an 0.16 ERA, and averaged just under 22 strikeouts per nine innings. He has a mesmerizing curveball, an improving fastball which should increase in velocity as he matures, and a changeup.
And Mozzicato already has a new fan:
Few knew who Frank Mozzicato was before Sunday night. Whether his becomes a household name remains to be seen.