2021 Connecticut Top MLB Draft Prospects
Today, Baseball America rolls out its state-by-state rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft. Additionally, you can find our:
Mozzicato didn't pitch at big national events last summer, which kept him under the radar. At the time, he was mostly throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s with good feel for a curveball and looked like a safe bet to get to Connecticut. Instead, his stock skyrocketed this spring, when he rattled off a stretch of no-hitters in four straight starts and ended the regular season averaging 21.7 K/9. One of the younger players in the class (he turns 18 on June 19), Mozzicato has plenty of projection arrows pointing up, with easy arm action, a low-effort delivery and more space to fill out his projectable frame. That should help him add to a fastball that has trended up this spring, with Mozzicato now sitting at 88-91 mph and reaching 93. His separator is a plus curveball, a 74-80 mph pitch that's one of the best breaking balls in the country from a high school lefty. It's a tight spinning pitch with top-to-bottom action, sharp bite and good depth to rack up whiffs. Mozzicato already manipulates speeds on his curveball based on the situation like a veteran, with an ability to consistently execute and command the pitch well beyond his years. Mozzicato mostly carves through hitters with his fastball and curve, but he has shown feel for a low-80s changeup that could develop into an average or better pitch. Mozzicato's pitchability is advanced for his age but he needs to improve his fastball command, though his athleticism and repeatable delivery should help him do so. Mozzicato doesn't have the present velocity of some other pitchers, but his combination of youth, delivery, physical projection and a knockout curveball have catapulted him into Day One consideration.
Casparius saw occasional playing time as an infielder and a reliever during his 2018 and 2019 seasons at North Carolina before transferring back to his home state to play for Connecticut. After sitting out 2020, Casparius broke through with an outstanding 2021 campaign, tying for seventh in the nation in strikeouts with 123 punchouts in 88 innings through the end of the regular season. At 6 feet, 208 pounds, Casparius isn't that big, but he has a quality three-pitch mix, operating off a fastball that sits at 89-93 mph and can reach 95. His fastball is arguably his third-best pitch, with a pair of secondary offerings that can miss bats. His go-to offspeed pitch is his slider, a 50 to 55 offering on the 20-80 scale. Some scouts see a potential plus slider, and he leans heavily on his fastball/slider combination against righthanded hitters. Against lefties, Casparius mixes in more changeups, and while he doesn't use it as much as his slider, it's the pitch that gets the highest whiff rate. His changeup flashes plus with excellent lateral action at its best and sometimes good drop as well, a true swing-and-miss pitch against pro hitters. Casparius is a good athlete with an efficient, repeatable delivery, but his fastball command needs to improve, which is why some scouts see his future in the bullpen. Others see a starter's three-pitch mix and enough strikes to project him as a solid back-end starter.
3. Pat Winkel, C, Connecticut (BA RANK: 162)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 198 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Yankees '18 (31)
Winkel hit well as a freshman at UConn in 2019, when he batted .318/.361/.486 in 49 games with a team-high seven home runs. He spent 2020 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he returned in 2021 and put together another strong season. Winkel starts his swing with a leg lift, keeps his hands fairly quiet and has a sound lefthanded swing. He doesn't have explosive bat speed and didn't face many plus fastballs in the Big East, but Winkel crushed the fastballs he did see. He has good plate coverage, with an ability to adjust his swing and barrel a fastball in any part of the zone and the power to hit 15-20 home runs. Winkel has a solid sense for the strike zone, but he didn't fare as well against offspeed stuff, with nearly all of his damage this year coming against fastballs. Winkel blocks and receives well, with his arm drawing mixed reviews but seeming to improve to flash average as he got further removed from surgery. His accuracy wavers, but he threw out 33% of runners.
4. Michael Sirota, SS/OF, The Gunnery School, Washington, Conn. (BA RANK: 202)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Northeastern
Sirota wasn't at most of the prominent events on the showcase circuit last summer, and in a rich year for talent in the Northeast, he has fallen under the radar for some clubs. Those who have gone in to see Sirota have been intrigued by his athleticism, tools and youth. He's one of the younger players in the draft, playing his high school season at 17 and turning 18 on June 16. He's an athletic center fielder with plus speed and a strong arm, showing good defensive instincts and reads off the bat. While a lot of teams haven't seen Sirota against top competition, he has generally hit well in games, including at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association Championship last year in October and the PG High School Showdown in Alabama this year in March. Sirota isn't the most physically imposing player, but he shows good bat speed, a patient approach and over-the-fence pop now with some strength projection remaining for that to tick up.
5. Rohan Handa, LHP, Yale (BA RANK: 216)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 210 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
Handa was one of the latest pop-up players in the 2021 class. After not pitching a collegiate season because of the Ivy League cancelling the spring season, Handa started turning heads when he got on the mound in the New England Collegiate League during the summer. While there, he looked like an entirely different pitcher than the southpaw who was sitting in the mid 80s in 2020 for Yale. Handa was instead running his fastball up to 97 mph from the left side with a banger of a slider that was in the mid-80s, matching his fastball velocity from just a year ago. Handa has also thrown a changeup with slight fading life. Handa worked with Tread Athletics in Charlotte, N.C., over the last year and a half or so to completely change the stuff coming out of his hand. Handa worked mostly as a reliever for Yale in his two seasons, but through five starts and 17 innings with Mystic in the NECL he had posted a 1.06 ERA with 25 strikeouts and eight walks. Handa pitches out of an overhead windup with a brief pause in his leg lift before driving to the plate with a three-quarter arm slot. His delivery features some effort and a bit of recoil, which might have teams thinking a bullpen role is his best option at the next level. Teams could come to vastly different conclusions on what to do with Handa given his drastic improvement and limited track record, but lefthanders who touch 97 don’t exactly grow on trees.
Moore's older brother, C.J., was a 13th-round pick of the D-backs in 2014 out of high school but didn't sign. Chris Moore is strong, athletic and has good bat speed, so the ball jumps off his bat in batting practice, with the ability to drive it well especially to the opposite field. Last summer, Moore had trouble with breaking pitches at big events, with a swing that cuts in and out of the hitting zone quickly, so some scouts have concerns about how much contact he's going to make against more advanced pitchers. A solid-average runner, Moore is a fluid mover at shortstop with good hands and footwork along with a strong arm, though with his body type he might outgrow the position and slide over to third base.
7. JuJu Stevens, OF, Amity HS, Woodbridge, Conn. (BA RANK: 313)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Missouri
Stevens performed well last summer and has added more size and strength to his lean, athletic frame this spring. Stevens has quick, strong wrists and generates impressive bat speed, starting his swing with a leg lift and whipping the barrel through the zone quickly. It's a stroke geared to leverage the ball in the air but comes with an aggressive approach and some swing and miss to his game. Stevens would have the most value if he can stick in center field, where he moves around well and has good instincts, but he's an average runner with a fringe-average arm, so a move to a corner would put a higher demand on his offensive output.
Langhorne came into the year with a good amount of buzz in the Northeast as a Vanderbilt commit who showed well last summer at the Area Code Games, where he struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced without issuing a walk. Now it seems more likely that Langhorne could end up on campus. At his best this spring, Langhorne's velocity has been at 89-93 mph, with a curveball that's average or a tick better at times, a hit-or-miss slider that was average at best last summer and an infrequent, below-average changeup. He also shortened his arm action coming into the year, but his stuff, results and strike throwing this year have been inconsistent. While he did throw strikes at his Area Code outing, his track record of control is more mixed, with a delivery that flies open early rather than staying on line to the plate. Langhorne could fit into Day Two of the draft—he's also scheduled to pitch this summer in the Futures League against college players—but his up-and-down spring could lead him to Vanderbilt.
9. Carlos Pena, OF, Salisbury (Conn.) HS (BA RANK: 429)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 220 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Missouri
Peña hasn't played much this spring due to an ankle injury, making him a difficult evaluation for scouts, but he's scheduled to join the new MLB Draft League, which will offer a strong test for his offensive ability against older college pitchers. What Peña does in the batter's box will drive his value, and he looked encouraging at times last year on the showcase circuit. He has a fairly sound swing from the left side and his advanced strength helps him drive the ball for extra-base damage in games with the potential for plus raw power. He has hit well in games with a solid feel for the strike zone, though his swing can get long at times. Peña has a large, physically mature body at 6 feet, 220 pounds and he moves well for his size, but he's still a below-average runner who looks like he will slow down. He has an average arm that could fit in right field, but he has spent some time at first base and could end up there long term.
With so many players to track in the Northeast this year and Higgins seeming to have a strong commitment to Duke, he has fallen down the priority list for scouts to see this spring, but he is one of the more promising pitchers in the area. Higgins has a loose arm and pitches with a low-90s fastball and solid strike-throwing skills. He pairs the fastball with good feel to spin a curveball that has the components to develop into an above-average pitch. Higgins has a changeup but rarely throws it against high school hitters. If Higgins does go to Duke, he has the upside to develop into one of the better pitchers in the Atlantic Coast Conference within the next few years.
Fedko hit .412/.434/.627 for Connecticut in 13 games in 2020 before the season shut down due to the pandemic. He followed it up in 2021 by hitting over .400 again, batting .410/.496/.697 with 12 home runs, 28 walks and 37 strikeouts in 50 games en route to becoming the Big East player of the year. The general review from scouts has been to tip their cap to his performance, even if they're unsure how he's been able to do it or whether that success will continue with a wood bat against better pitchers. Fedko has shown feel for hitting, but his swing has holes and he doesn't have the big power that teams look for in a corner outfielder. His speed and defense limit him to left field, so he will have to keep raking at a high level.
12. Nicholas Dombkowski, LHP, Hartford
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 195 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
13. Brandyn Garcia, LHP, Quinnipiac
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 220 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
14. Matthew Garbowski, C, New Fairfield HS
Source: HS • Commitment/Drafted: Connecticut
15. Julian Tonghini, RHP, Salisbury School
Source: HS • Ht: 6-4 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Boston College
16. Harrison Feinberg, OF, King School
Source: HS • Commitment/Drafted: Southern California
17. Luke Masiuk, OF, Trumbull HS
Source: HS • Commitment/Drafted: Northeastern
18. Trey McLoughlin, RHP, Fairfield
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 210 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
19. Braden Quinn, LHP, New Fairfield HS
Source: HS • Commitment/Drafted: Connecticut