|Mazzaro was inconsistent with Stockton last season.|
It is in part because of those poorer numbers in 2006 and 2007 that Mazzaro's fine effort in 2008 has somewhat flown under the radar. He was named the starter of the Texas League All-Star game, but he is rarely mentioned by national pundits as a top pitching prospect despite being one of the youngest pitchers in the league at age 21.
Oakland A's Minor League Pitching Coordinator Gil Patterson believes that Mazzaro should be regarded in the same company as his Midland Rockhounds' teammates past and present, the highly touted Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Henry Rodriguez.
|Mazzaro's entire arsenal of pitches has improved this season.|
Mazzaro has a laid back personality and hasn't appeared bothered by relative lack of attention, according to Patterson.
"He isn't like that [looking for the accolades]. He more like, ‘well Gomer, I'll just go out and get the next guy out,'" Patterson joked.
Part of the reason for Mazzaro's improved numbers this season is his physical maturity over the past six months. Over the off-season, Mazzaro's body "leaned up" in the words of A's farm director Keith Lieppman. As a result, Mazzaro added a few miles per hour to his already solid fastball, putting it in the 91-95 MPH range.
Mazzaro's secondary stuff has also improved. He showed flashes of plus secondary pitches last season with Stockton, but the quality of those pitches tended to fluctuate from start to start. This year, Mazzaro has been commanding those pitches much better. Mazzaro's best pitch is a power sinker, but he can also spin an above-average curveball and mix-in a solid change-up.
"I was working out in a gym last week and one of the other Texas League managers came in and he said ‘the hitters say [Mazzaro's] ball is never straight. One ball is cutting, one ball is sinking, one is changing speeds and one is a curveball,'" Patterson said.
As good as Mazzaro was before the All-Star break (7-3, 2.36 ERA and a .240 BAA), he has been even better since the break, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA in four starts. He has struck-out nearly a batter an inning (24 in 28 innings) and has held opposing batters to a .206 average. He has allowed only 29 base-runners in those 28 innings.
The way that Mazzaro has dominated this season, Texas League hitters are probably hopeful that the right-hander will be moving up to Triple-A sometime soon. Patterson is in no hurry to see Mazzaro join the Sacramento River Cats rotation, however.
"I think he is quite capable [of pitching in Triple-A]. I am probably a guy who says let a guy stay in one level for a whole year and just let him dominate at that level and move them up the next year," Patterson said.
"Each case might be different though. Sometimes you have to give a guy a taste at that higher level, so there are different times that you move someone."
Patterson has no doubts, however, that Mazzaro would be able to handle the jump should the A's decide to move him up a level.
"Honestly, if he was to pitch in Triple-A this year, I don't see him not being able to pitch just as well as he has been pitching at Double-A."