Draft : : State Preview
Thursday, May 23, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Connecticut

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: Perfect Game
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.

Connecticut State-by-State List

Connecticut and its draft crops have long been mostly defined by the strength of the UConn Huskies’ roster, as well as its best high school player. For four consecutive years, the state’s highest drafted player has been a Huskie. The last time a non-UConn player was the first taken out of the state of Connecticut was Anthony Hewitt, who was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1st round back in 2008.

There’s a strong possibility that we’ll see the high school player return to prominence in Connecticut this June. Thomas Milone, out of Masuk High School, is the clear frontrunner at the moment to be the state’s first player selected, but in keeping with tradition, a slew of UConn stars should follow him in the later rounds. There is no Mike Olt or George Springer among them, however, but, the rise of programs like Hartford and New Haven will also give rise to them producing early round talent, and we’ll begin to see that in this draft.

College pitching
WEAKNESS: College hitters
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 2

BEST JUNIOR COLLEGE TEAM: University of Connecticut at Avery Point

Best Out-of-State Prospect, Connecticut Connection:
Andrew Brockett, rhp, University of Richmond (attended North Haven HS)
Top 2014 Prospect: Sean Newcomb, lhp, Hartford
Top 2015 Prospect: George Hewitt, of, Salisbury School


Draft History:
Bobby Valentine, ss, Rippowam HS, Stamford (1968, Dodgers/1st round, 5th pick).
2008 Draft: Anthony Hewitt, 3b, Salisbury Prep (Phillies/1st round, 24th pick)
2009 Draft: Dan Mahoney, rhp, University of Connecticut (Marlins/4th round)
2010 Draft: Michael Olt, 3b, University of Connecticut (Rangers/1st round, 49th pick)
2011 Draft: George Springer, of, University of Connecticut (Astros/1st round, 11th pick)
2012 Draft: L.J. Mazzilli, 2b, University of Connecticut (Twins/9th round, 280th pick)


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 0/0
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 2/0


P 1 (rounds 1-3)

1.  THOMAS MILONE, of, Masuk HS
At least in terms of statistical performance, Milone has not been overwhelming in front of scouts this spring. His competition or lack thereof also make the scouting conditions less than idea. But, scouts have been attracted to his exciting raw tools since last summer. He shows an above average bat, as well as an average arm in center field, and 60 foot speed on the 20-80 scale. What might be the difference maker for Milone, though, is his power. He’s quick to the ball and has a lot of lift in his swing, and consistently generates backspin on the baseball. With that said, he projects to have at least average or a notch above average left-handed power at the big league level. There are some mechanical issues that professional coaches will likely want to tidy up in his swing, like the twitch in his wrist during his load. Quieting his mechanics somewhat may allow his very fast hands to go to work a little more consistently. Right now, he also appears to have the tools to remain in center, and gets a good first step on balls in the gap. There was early spring buzz that he could go as high as the compensation round, but it seems more likely now that the speedy center fielder goes off the board between rounds three and five. Click here to read David Rawnsley's detailed Draft Focus report on Milone.

GROUP 2 (rounds 4-10)

2.  L.J. MAZZILLI, 2b, University of Connecticut (Sr.)

It came as a surprise to most when Mazzilli did not decide to sign after being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the ninth round of the 2012 draft. He had been projected to go a couple rounds higher, but it was surprising nonetheless. While Mazzilli is not a player with a collection of plus tools, he’s a solid performer with no glaring weaknesses. There are scouts that see him more as a left fielder as a pro than a second baseman, but they also believe he could make a career out of being a versatile utility player in the big leagues. He has the athleticism and skill-set to do that. To his credit, Mazzilli put together a strong spring for the Huskies in 2013, hitting .367 with five home runs, and 28 steals in 32 attempts over 59 games. He has better than average speed, and could project to have average power. If there are enough scouts who believe that, it’s likely he’ll go higher this year than last, coming off the board around the fifth to seventh rounds.

3.  HENRY HIRSCH, rhp, University of New Haven (Jr.)
Few pitchers in the northeast, let alone in Connecticut, have helped their stock has much as Henry Hirsch has this spring. A 6-3, 195-pound athlete, Hirsch has put himself on the map mostly on the strength of his power fastball. He worked at 90-94 mph this spring, consistently living around 92-93, and topping out at 95. His fastball has good life, but command has been a significant issue for him. He also shows a feel for a curveball, which occasionally will flash good depth. But, for now, Hirsch is a power arm first and foremost. He had a strong spring for New Haven, and should go off the board between rounds 7-10.

4.  CARSON CROSS, rhp, University of Connecticut (RS So.)
There’s always a place for pitchers who rely on command, and Cross is one of those pitchers. But, he’s not a complete finesse pitcher. Cross concerned some scouts early this spring when he came out of the gate at 85-88 mph, but he has since picked it up and finished off the season at 88-91, consistently touching 92-93. He mixes his three pitches very well, relying on his breaking ball and changeup quite a bit. There’s not a plus pitch in his arsenal, but he locates all three pitches and knows how to pitch backwards. His 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and easy delivery also make him a strong candidate to start in the big leagues. He projects as a back of the rotation starter, but he’s proven to be a consistent performer with above average command. That type of profile should get him taken between rounds 8-10.


NEIL KOZIKOWSKI, rhp, Avon Old Farms School
If you’re looking for the top high school pitcher in the state this year, Kozikowski is your guy in Connecticut. There are clubs that like him as high as the seventh or eighth round, but in all likelihood he fits more in the 9-12 round range. He has a long, athletic, 6-foot-3, 180-pound build and an easy delivery to go with it. This spring he’s lived at 88-91 mph with his fastball, consistently touching 92. He shows a changeup, which is best secondary offering at this point. His slider is going to require some work at the next level. Kozikowski is committed to Virginia Commonwealth.

BRIAN HUNTER, rhp, University of Hartford (Jr.)
Word has gotten around in the scouting world this spring that Hartford may be the home of a first round pick next year in left-hander Sean Newcomb. But, in a show of strength in their weekend rotation, right-hander Brian Hunter, has made a push for the top ten rounds this year as well. He works consistently at 88-92 mph with his fastball, showing excellent sink, and has been up to 94 this spring. He’s well sized at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and he’s proven capable of repeating his delivery. The curveball has been Hunter’s go-to secondary offering, flashing average action at 76-80 mph. Hunter has a shot to sneak into the 9-10 round range. 

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