Scouting Report on Mets' Second-Round Pick Cory Mazzoni

With their second-round pick, the Mets selected righty Cory Mazzoni, a guy who brings a lot to the table but has a couple of glaring weaknesses. Mazzoni's principal asset is velocity; as a startern for North Carolina State, Mazzoni's fastball sat in the low-90s and occasionally crept up into the mid-90s. His peak velocity is 97. That's premium arm strength, and he maintains it pretty well. While he doesn't have a lot of size at 6-1, 194, he has an athletic build, which certainly helps his endurance. The other big asset is his control. That facet of his game improved greatly in 2011, dropping to 2.3 from a 3.9 figure in 2010. He's been helped by a smooth, simple delivery. Scouts also love his attitude on the mound; "bulldog" is frequently heard in connection with his name. He goes right after hitters, throws strikes, and dares them to hit it.

Of course, he can be hit. Mazzoni has a little bit of what an old Red Sox-loving friend of mine called Alan Embree disease: "95-mile-per-hour fastball, straight as an arrow." Mazzoni's height and true three-quarters arm slot don't give him a lot of downward plane on the ball, so there's little sink. Mazzoni gave up eight home runs in 114 innings this season, and while that may not sound like a lot, remember that the NCAA has seen a tremendous drop in home run rate in 2011 due to the new bats. One number I saw suggested the drop is somewhere around 60%. And in fact, Mazzoni has one of the lower ground ball rates in the college ranks, which is none too surprising. And this is where his competitiveness gets him in trouble: he goes right after hitters, daring them to hit a fastball right down the heart of the plate. Location is suddenly extremely important, and despite Mazzoni's control, his command can give him trouble.

Second, while his curveball can be a good pitch with drop, he doesn't always spin it consistently, and sometimes it'll come out of his hand decidedly flat. He's been somewhat more consistent with the pitch, which is why his strikeout rates rose, but it's a concern. That won't help his home run rate as a pro either. His third pitch also isn't a true change but a splitter, but some scouts would prefer he develop a true change to give his velocity differentials a little more dimension. Otherwise, hitters might have too much success taking him the other way. The final issue is though the delivery is smooth, he does have late elbow pronation, which can stress the shoulder.

Here's the big question: what role does Mazzoni ultimately fill? While he has the arm strength to be a starter, I see him as more of a reliever, due to the limitations mentioned above. In the bullpen, Mazzoni will be able to move quickly, especially with his control, and the velocity will rise up to the higher end of his spectrum. He'll also be able to use his more limited arsenal to greater effect.

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