MLB crowns KC Royals pitching prospect as breakout candidate

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KC Royals fans had an overwhelmingly negative reaction when their team drafted Connecticut prep pitcher Frank Mozzicato 7th overall back in 2021. The organization's recent poor history regarding drafting and developing players did not help the outlook. Thankfully, Mozzicato has progressed each season in the Royals minor leagues. Now,'s Jonathan Mayo named Mozzicato as Kansas City's prime breakout candidate heading into 2024.

The lefty is Kansas City's fifth-best prospect and second-best pitching prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Mozzicato has adeptly struck out batters in both Low-A and High-A, with his 130 strikeouts ranking fourth in the Royals system last season. His pitching arsenal is still developing, but a high-spin fastball and promising fastball keep inexperienced batters off balance.

The KC Royals are trusting Frank Mozzicato's progress heading into 2024.

However, Mozzicato still has major control issues and lacks maintaining his fastball velocity deep into starts. Royals director of player development Mitch Maier told's Mayo those issues are at the forefront of Mozzicato's development.

“Coming into this season, you see he’s more physical, he’s maturing physically and mentally as he goes through this,” Maier said. “There are adjustments that need to be made at each level. Can you make those adjustments and continue to so-called ‘beat the level’ as you move up through the system?"

Mozzicato has plenty of adjustments to make this spring, especially after a rollercoaster 2023 season. His season took a turn for the worse after colliding with a teammate in early June. He missed a couple of starts following that, but his performance was noticeably different.

“He was performing, pitching so well and then the injury happened where he collided with a teammate and so it bumped him off the tracks a little bit,” Maier said. “He had momentum and then to have an injury or setback where you have to hit a reset there, I think it definitely had a little bit of impact.”

He made nine starts before said collision, with a 14.37 K/9, 2.14 ERA, and 3.25 FIP. In his 12 starts afterward, his strikeouts remained okay with 10.80 K/9, but his walks ballooned to 8.10 BB/9. That, plus an ugly 7.14 ERA and 6.14 FIP, really cast a shadow over his first-half successes. Hopefully, Mozzicato's lessons learned and a clean bill of health propel him further in 2024. For the time being, Mayo thinks that it will.

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