When the Connecticut baseball team won the Big East Conference championship last month, it was an emotional time for second baseman LJ Mazzilli and his family.
Friday, Mazzilli was selected in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and that must have brought tears of joy again. Mazzilli was drafted by the New York Mets, the team his father, Lee, played for from 1976-82 and again from 1986-89.
The Greenwich, Conn., native was the 116th player drafted overall and the 10th of the fourth round.
Mazzilli, who was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, elected to return to UConn for his senior season. He was a first-team All-Big East selection in 2013, and helped lead the Huskies to the NCAA tournament regional in Blacksburg by winning the Big East championship.
"He was so excited, he was crying a little bit," Mazzilli said of his father's reaction to the Big East championship.
The Mazzilli family had dedicated LJ's final season to his uncle, Fredo. Lee's brother died of lung cancer last August.
"After the [Notre Dame] game, when we won, my Dad just had a little moment and let it all out," LJ said.
As a senior, Mazzilli hit a team-best .354 with 16 doubles, six homers, 51 RBIs and 50 runs while stealing 29 of 33 bases. Mazzilli was also named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America District II Player of the Year on Friday. District II consists of Connecticut, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
He was a 2013 second-team Louisville Slugger All-American and a semifinalist for The Dick Howser Trophy.
Lee Mazzilli is the son of welterweight boxer Libero Mazzilli and grew up in Brooklyn. He also played for the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates and ended his playing career with the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a lifetime batting average of .259 with 93 home runs. He also managed the Baltimore Orioles from 2004-05.