Mazzaro will start for Oakland on Tuesday in CHI.
The youthful Oakland A's pitching staff will get even younger on Tuesday with the debut of 22-year-old top pitching prospect Vince Mazzaro. Mazzaro, who is currently fourth in the Pacific Coast League in ERA with a 2.38 mark, will get the Chicago White Sox in his first major league start.
Since he was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft, Vince Mazzaro has been seemingly part of a trio. When he was selected he was the third of three consecutive high school pitchers taken by the A's in rounds two and three (the other two being Jared Lansford and Craig Italiano) and the three were often lumped together during their first few professional seasons. Then when he emerged as a top pitching prospect last season, he began to be paired with the young duo of Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Now Mazzaro will have a chance to stand on his own and make a name for himself.
The right-hander has had quite a journey since being selected in the draft in 2005 out of a Rutherford, New Jersey, high school. He signed late and didn’t make his professional debut until 2006. Mazzaro made that debut with the Low-A Kane County Cougars, with whom he made 24 starts and threw 119.1 innings in 2006. The next season, Mazzaro threw 153.2 innings for the High-A Stockton Ports. In both 2006 and 2007, Mazzaro showed flashes of being an elite pitching prospect, but consistency was a problem for the youngster, as he posted ERAs of 5.05 and 5.33 in his first two seasons. Going into the 2008 season, OaklandClubhouse.com ranked Mazzaro as the 11th best prospect in the A's system. We said of the right-hander at the time:
"Mazzaro has taken his lumps since turning pro, posting ERAs above 5.00 in each of his first two seasons. However, it seems like it is only a matter of time before he puts it all together."
Come together it did for Mazzaro in 2008. He reported to spring training with a stronger and slimmer physique and earned a spot with Double-A Midland despite his struggles with Stockton the year before. He tore through the Texas League, going 12-3 with a 1.90 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 137.1 innings for the Rockhounds. Mazzaro won the Texas League's ERA crown and the league's Pitcher of the Year award. He struggled some in a late-season audition with the River Cats, posting a 6.15 ERA in 33.2 innings, but that did little to diminish what Mazzaro accomplished in 2008. OaklandClubhouse.com named Mazzaro the A's minor league Pitcher of the Year at the end of the season.
Mazzaro indicated that an improvement with his change-up was the key to his success in 2008.
"You can use [the change-up] to get further into the game with less pitches on you and it is a lot easier on the arm. I think that helped me out a lot. I got a lot of groundballs with it and I think it is going to be key this year," Mazzaro said earlier in the season.
Mazzaro was a non-roster invitee to major league spring training in 2009, the first time for the right-hander. He was very impressive early, not allowing a run in his first 8.2 innings of major league pitching, before struggling in two outings late in the spring and being sent back to minor league camp. Mazzaro was the River Cats' Opening Day starter. He didn't allow a hit on Opening Day in four inning before he was pulled due to pitch count. With the exception of two consecutive starts on April 30th and May 6th, Mazzaro has dominated the Pacific Coast League this season. In every outing but those two, he has allowed two runs or less and he has had two eight-inning, one-hit games to his credit.
Overall, Mazzaro has a 2.38 ERA and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 56.2 innings. He has done an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground and has allowed only two homeruns. Over his last four starts, Mazzaro has allowed one earned run in 27.2 innings with 21 strike-outs and only four walks. He has earned the PCL's Pitcher of the Week award two weeks in a row.
Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco has been impressed with the 22-year-old.
"Vinny has great stuff. He is dominating with his command right now. His breaking ball has been great and he has enough movement [on his fastball] to get groundballs. He has also done a really good job of keeping his composure," Francesco said on Sunday.
The right-hander features a mid-90s fastball with sinking action, a curveball, a change-up and a slider. Mazzaro will get the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday for his major league debut not too far from where he made his professional debut with the Low-A Kane County Cougars in April of 2006. He isn't on the A's 40-man roster, so Oakland will need to make a move both with its 25-man and 40-man rosters to add Mazzaro.
To view all of Scout.com's coverage of Mazzaro throughout his career, please click: here.