2021 MLB Draft: Three New England prospects selected in Round 1

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MLB Draft: Three New Englanders taken in Round 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

New England is well-represented in the 2021 MLB Draft with three prospects selected in Round 1 and another three taken in Round 2.

Frank Mozzicato, a left-handed pitcher out of East Catholic High in Manchester, Conn., was the first one off the board. The 18-year-old was taken with the No. 7 overall pick by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

2021 MLB Draft tracker: Follow every Red Sox pick here

Sal Frelick, an outfielder out of Boston College who hails from Lexington, Mass., was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers at No. 15 overall.

Wake Forest right-hander Ryan Cusick, a Sudbury, Mass. native, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves at No. 24.

Frelick's Boston College teammate, Cody Morissette, was taken 52nd overall by the Miami Marlins. Morissette is a second baseman out of Exeter High School in New Hampshire.

Joshua Baez also came off the board on Day 2. The outfielder from Dexter Southfield in Brookline, Mass. was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 54th pick.

Left-hander Steve Hajjar, the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018 at Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass., was taken 61st overall by the Minnesota Twins.

Learn more about each New England prospect below, courtesy of MLB Pipeline's scouting reports:

Frank Mozzicato

Mozzicato is an athletic lefty who jumped on the radar more this spring with a bit of a velocity jump to give him the chance to be the first prep arm from the Nutmeg State to go in the top five rounds since 2014.

Over the summer, Mozzicato’s fastball topped out at 91 and was below-average from a velocity standpoint, typically sitting in the upper-80s. After spending time working out at Cressey Sports Performance, he came out this spring throwing considerably harder, sitting around 91 mph and touching 93 mph consistently. His curveball is the selling point here, a plus breaker now with high spin. 

The lefty has a changeup and while he doesn’t need it much at this level, there’s reason to believe from his athleticism and delivery that he’ll develop a solid offspeed pitch in time. He’s filled up the strike zone and been unhittable this spring with more and more attention from scouts, making one wonder if he’ll ever set foot on UConn’s campus.

Sal Frelick

Frelick was a three-sport star in high school, playing football, hockey and baseball at a high level. That athleticism is a big part of his game, with his easy speed helping him defensively and on the basepaths. Offensively, he has a strong history of making contact and getting on base. He walked more than he struck out in 2019 and '20 combined and has very impressive bat-to-ball skills along with plus bat speed, pointing to future potential as a plus hitter. He’s deceptively strong with good extra-base ability, and he could eventually get to average power from the left side of the plate.

The 5-foot-9 Frelick has played mostly right field at Boston College, though he did see some time in center in 2019 and even played some shortstop last summer. He was in in center full-time in 2021, and thanks to his plus makeup, he worked to make good adjustments and prove he should be able to stay there long-term, and the Golden Spikes Award semifinalist was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a result of those efforts.

Ryan Cusick

Cusick's money pitch is his fastball, which can sit at 94-97 mph with high spin rates and riding action deep into games and has been clocked as high as 102. After struggling to come up with a reliable breaking ball, he has shown a much-improved 79-82 mph curveball this spring that can be a plus pitch at its best. He also has a sinking changeup that shows flashes of becoming a solid offering when he uses it, as well as a mid-80s slider that gets slurvy. 

There isn't much effort in Cusick's delivery and his arm works well, but he has yet to provide consistent strikes. As impressive as his arm strength is, he'll have to be more efficient to succeed as a starter at higher levels. His huge 6-foot-6 frame and high arm slot provide angle and plane on his pitches and add to the difficulty of trying to barrel them.

Cody Morissette

A solid athlete whose parents both played college basketball, Morissette provides more physical upside than his undersized teammate Frelick. He should fill into his 6-foot frame and add more to what is already solid strength. That should help him add power, though just how much remains to be seen, with him looking more like the type who’ll hit a ton of doubles if he’s locked in. He’s more than willing to draw walks and has shown excellent contact skills in the past, but really struggled to impact the ball when teams stopped throwing him fastballs this spring. He’s not a burner, but he runs well enough and is smart and aggressive on the base paths.

Defensively, Morissette has shown he can play multiple positions well, manning second as a freshman and handling third base a year ago. With a good internal clock, soft hands and enough arm, he could even play shortstop, a spot he’d play if it weren’t for the presence of Brian Dempsey at BC. A team that thinks he can play short might be the one to take him, knowing he could slide over to second with the ceiling of developing into a Chase Utley type of player if he can rediscover his groove at the plate.

Joshua Baez

There might not be a player in the Draft class with more raw pop than Baez. It shows up in games against good competition, like when he crushed a home run with an exit velocity well over 100 mph at the Area Code Games. With that power comes a lot of swing and miss, especially when he gets too home run happy. He doesn’t take bad swings or get fooled, but just swings through pitches while trying to hit the ball 600 feet every time. There is hope that when he learns to trust his strength and tone down his swing, he’ll make more contact and find his power is naturally there.

While not a burner, Baez is a solid runner who knows how to steal a base and could stick in center field for a while. If the Vanderbilt recruit needs to move to a corner, he should profile very well in right, with a hose for an arm that fires fastballs up to 97 mph off the mound.

Steve Hajjar

When Hajjar is at his best, he works in the low 90s and tops out at 95 mph with his fastball, which has sinking action and gets on hitters quickly because of the extension he gets with his 6-foot-5 frame. He has sat at 88-91 mph with less life on his heater for much of this season. His best pitch often is his low-80s changeup with tumble, which he sells with fastball arm speed, while his curveball can be solid but has spent most of the spring as a loopy mid-70s offering. 

Though Hajjar has gotten stronger, he still has some projection remaining. While scouts hoped to see better stuff from him in his Draft year, he does have the makings of three solid or better pitches. He has done a nice job of tightening up his deceptive delivery since arriving in Ann Arbor, though he still can get more consistent with his control and command.

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The New Englanders continued to fly off the board in later rounds. Sean Burke, a right-hander out St. John’s in Shrewsbury, Mass., was selected in Round 3 by the Chicago White Sox. Right-hander and Plainville, Vt. native Owen Kellington went to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Round 4. Ben Casparius, a right-hander from Westport, Conn., was drafted in Round 5 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.