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A Look at Vin Mazzaro

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJune 4, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 9:  The 2006 American League West banner for the Oakland Athletics is unveiled before their game against the Chicago White Sox at McAfee Coliseum April 9, 2007 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night the Oakland A’s unveiled the latest in their seemingly infinite supply of high-quality pitching prospects in right-hander Vin Mazzaro. 

He was solid, tossing 6.1 shutout innings giving up three hits and four walks, striking out one batter.  He was even more impressive after the second inning, allowing just two base runners over his final 4.1 innings of work.

The question for fantasy owners is if this type of performance is the exception to the rule or if is the type of pitcher he will be moving.  In order to answer that, we first need to see what he has accomplished during his professional career.  In the notoriously high-powered Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) this season, he had posted the following line this season:

2 Wins
56.2 Innings
2.38 ERA
1.04 WHIP
44 Strikeouts (6.99 K/9)
17 Walks (2.70 BB/9)
.257 BABIP

That alone would tell you that his lack of control is not indicative of his abilities on the mound.  Over his minor league career he’s posted a BB/9 of 3.1, and he was well below that last season.  In 137.1 Double-A innings he was at 2.4, a number he matched in 33.2 Triple-A innings after being promoted.

If you want to credit his wildness to debut jitters or what, it is a safe bet that he is not a pitcher that is going to go out and walk the ballpark each time he takes the mound.  That certainly works in his favor, especially pitching in a ballpark that generally benefits pitchers.

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The strikeout number is concerning.  Over his minor league career his K/9 is at 6.7, so there is little doubt that he is not about to light up the box score with strikeouts. 

Keep in mind that he is just 22-years old, so he likely is still maturing and learning on the mound.  He is armed with a fastball (both two and four-seam that reached 95 on the gun), change-up, curveball and slider.  He obviously hasn’t shown the ability to be among the game’s elite, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he develops into a seven or eight K/9 guy in the major leagues.

Unfortunately for fantasy owners, 2009 is not going to be that season.  Considering he hasn’t shown the ability to strikeout seven batters per nine innings in the minors, it would not be surprising to see him fall at six or under this season.

The most interesting number is that of the 19 outs he recorded, 11 of them were in the air.  In the minor leagues this season he had posted a GB percentage of 59 percent and last season it was at 50.4 percent.  He is a ground ball machine, which helps to justify his below average BABIP. 

Mazzaro was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle (click here for the article) that he was “a little excited and overthrowing a little bit,” which would certainly help to explain the increased fly ball numbers.

In general, when you have a pitcher who throws that hard and generates that many groundballs, it is a skill set that I want to buy.  I wouldn’t declare him a must own in shallower mixed leagues, especially with his likely lack of strikeouts, but in deeper formats and keeper leagues he is a pitcher worth looking at.  He’s going to go through growing pains, like any young pitcher, but he’s likely to hold value.

What do you think of Mazzaro?  Is he a pitcher you would consider owning?

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