5 Lessons from a First-Round Draft Pick

About the Author: Eric Cressey

In last week’s Major League Baseball Draft, Cressey Sports Performance had 15 athletes selected – including three of the top 30 picks.

Among of those three, Frank Mozzicato, was selected 7th overall by the Kansas City Royals – making him the highest draft pick we’ve ever had out of 185 draft picks since our business opened.

Given that Frank’s selection so high surprised so many people, many articles were written about his rapid rise up draft boards. In an article in “The Athletic,” Alec Lewis wrote:

Fahy first saw Mozzicato in the summer of 2020. The 6-foot-3 lefty threw 85-86 mph. Fahy jotted down notes, at the very least expecting Mozzicato to be a good college pitcher. Then, in late February, a few of his scouting friends started talking: People are watching this kid; he threw really well.

What Fahy would later find out is how much Mozzicato had committed himself in 2020. Mozzicato, a multisport athlete growing up, road-tripped up to Cressey Sports Performance, where he further focused on pitching. This meant better nutrition and more specified lifts. Each contributed to an uptick in velocity, which Fahy noticed when he first watched him this spring.

It was early March, and Fahy observed a Mozzicato warmup in the bullpen at East Catholic High School.

“You take notice of the kid’s body and athleticism,” Fahy said. “That’s what stood out. Lean frame. You could project on him and say he’d be physical. His arm worked well. And right away, he spun his breaking ball.”

These paragraphs yield several invaluable lessons:

1. Many great players are late bloomers.

I know loads of MLB players who were barely recruited out of high school, but thrived when they got to college. Defining “upside” on 16-17 year-old players is difficult not only because bodies can change dramatically in just months, but also because most haven’t yet learned how to work hard and compete.

2. Failure is a great teacher.

Frank didn’t make an Area Code roster last summer, and it motivated him to get after it to improve. Jesus Luzardo didn’t make his, and he was the big leagues at age 21. Tyler Beede was cut from Team USA and became a first rounder. Scouts often admit that they’re wrong more than they’re right. One reason is that you can’t predict how someone will respond to being overlooked. Some guys whine about it, and others get to work.

3. Sacrifice optimizes buy-in.

Many guys say that they “want it,” but aren’t willing to give up other things that they also want. Cressey Sports Performance – Massachusetts is 80 minutes from Frank’s high school in CT, and he made that trip a lot. He drove past facilities on the way that couldn’t deliver the expertise and environment that we delivered, and sacrificed time with family and friends to make it happen. If everything is easy, athletes may falsely assure themselves that everything will come easily, too. Sometimes, putting additional skin in the game is a way to the commitment to working is real.

4. Multisport athletes are primed for gains when they eventually specialize.

These gains aren’t conferred to the same degree if you specialize at age 12, though, because the foundation isn’t build broadly enough and the injuries are extensive. Frank had a clean injury history and movement foundation, so we could progress quickly instead of putting a broken body back together.

5. Coordinating efforts across strength and conditioning, nutrition and skill instruction is key.

Synergy is a big differentiator for us at CSP; we make sure all these pieces fit together. Those entities require expertise and seamless integration.

Interesting in learning more about our baseball development offerings? Check out CSP-Massachusetts, CSP-Florida, or our online training offerings.

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