Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Vince Mazzaro, P

Vince Mazzaro was part of a trio of high school drafted pitchers who began the 2006 season with Low-A Kane County. After a good debut season, Mazzaro was promoted to High-A Stockton for the 2007 campaign. He will make his 2007 debut for the Ports tonight at Banner Island. We spoke to the right-hander about his experiences last year and the challenges he'll face in the California League.

After being selected in the third round of the 2005 draft out of Rutherford High School in New Jersey, Vince Mazzaro signed too late to appear in the short-season leagues that year. Consequently, the 2006 season was his first in professional baseball. Although Mazzaro didn't pitch in a short-season league in 2005, the A's went ahead and promoted him to a full-season affiliate in 2006 based on an impressive performance by the right-hander during the 2005 Instructional Leagues.

Mazzaro was the iron man of the Kane County rotation in 2006 and showed that he belonged in a full-season league. The then-19 year old made all of his starts on turn until he reached his season innings limit and was shut-down by the Oakland A's in mid-August. Mazzaro had 24 starts for the Cougars, posting a 9-9 record and a 5.05 ERA in 119.1 innings. He struck out 81 and walked 42 and gave up only seven homeruns on the season.

Now Mazzaro is making the sometimes difficult leap from the hitter-neutral Midwest League to the hitter-friendly California League. We spoke to the right-hander two days before his Monday night debut for the Stockton Ports.

OaklandClubhouse: How did you feel your first full season of pro ball went?

Vince Mazzaro: I thought I had a pretty good season. I was really excited making the jump from high school to the pros. Not too many people get to do that. It was a little overwhelming at first, but I got used to it.

OC: You threw a lot of innings. Did you feel like you were tiring towards the end of last season?

VM: Actually, towards the end of the season I felt like I was getting stronger. My arm was really getting loose and the weather was a lot warmer, so it was easier to pitch. We were in Chicago, so it was really cold at the start [of the season].

OC: Was it hard to get the season started playing in 15 or 20 degree weather at the start of the year?

VM: Not really because I'm from Jersey, so I was used to it. My first month or so of my high school season it was usually snowing and cold.

OC: Did you have a highlight from last season?

VM: I think the highlight was just going out there every start and doing the best I can. I had a few good games, especially my last three or four starts there I felt pretty good and did well.

OC: Did you work on refining your pitches at all in the Instructional League?

VM: Yeah, in Instructs I worked a lot with the change-up and just being consistent with my fastball and hitting my spots better. I thought I got a lot out of that time in Instructs.

OC: Are you still building up your velocity?

VM: Yeah, I'm still building it up. Last year, I was in the low 90s. I worked really hard in the off-season to bring up to 92-94, so I'm definitely building it up a bit.

OC: What was your off-season throwing program like?

VM: I waited something like two months and then I started throwing. It was tough to throw in the cold back home, so I threw a lot inside.

OC: How did spring training go?

VM: Spring training went really well for me. I thought I came in in good shape and pitched as well as I was hoping to.

OC: Have you heard much about the California League?

VM: All I hear is that it is a hitter's park and that the wind is always blowing out. I'm not going to let that change my game, though. I'm just going to keep throwing the way I threw last year and get outs.

OC: Is your first start on Monday?

VM: Yeah, it is Monday. I'm pumped to get out there.

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