2015 Split Review: L.J. Mazzilli | Astromets Mind

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2015 Split Review: L.J. Mazzilli


Strike zone profile from his brief AFL stint

2015 with Binghamton (including playoffs): 104 G, 387 PA, .260/.336/.332, 51 R, 21 2B, 2 3B, 23 RBI, 60 K: 37 BB (15.5 K%: 9.6 BB%), .314 BABIP, .072 ISO, 97 wRC+, 5-7 on Stolen Bases,  15 AB/XBH, 38.2 GB%: 31.4 FB%: 23 LD%: 7.4 PU%, 7.4 SwStr%, 17.2% Whiff/Swing, 3.64 P/PA



            Although L.J. Mazzilli was a feel-good draft-pick for those Mets fans who have fond memories of his father Lee, it was considered more of a money saving safe pick for those who follow the draft closely. The Mets knew he had little leverage as a 22-year old college senior, and so they signed him for about 140K under slot, which allowed them to go over slot elsewhere. Still, his game was expected to at least get him to the upper levels of the minors, with Rob Castellanos of Amazin’ Avenue saying, “I think there is a fair chance that he eventually becomes a regular or semi-regular player in the big leagues.” Mazzilli then went out and hit his way through all A-ball levels with little problems during the 2013 and 2014 season. He was poised for a big year at Binghamton in 2015, but then a suspension for a ‘drug of abuse’ was handed down last offseason, which meant he’d sit out the first half of the year.
            When his 2015 finally did start, I expected him to help the B-Mets offense but be shaky on the defensive side. He then went out and provided about league average offensive production (97 wRC+), while committing 13 errors in 83 games at 2B, which fits that profile, but his defense was pretty consistent and looked better than the error count, while his offensive production was nonexistent at times because he was so streaky. He had five 4-hit games and two 3-hit games, and those seven games account for ~30% of his hits with the B-Mets. As a perfect example of his streakiness, he went 12-24 in the third week of July, but then 3-25 the following week – or taking it a little further, he followed that 12-24 stretch with a 14-78 stretch over his next 20 games, then went 9-13 over a 4-game stretch, followed by a 5-28 week. In late June, he had a 5-game hit streak, went hitless over his next 4, and then put together a 7-game hit streak. He was streaky during the 2014 season too, but the lows were not quite so low. Still, he found other little ways to help the team win when the hits weren’t falling, something even scouts who likely barely saw him noticed – Baseball America said, “Mazzilli brings a hard-nosed style of play to the diamond and is regarded by scouts as a classic overachiever type,” in their 2016 Prospect Guidebook. Although he didn’t hit any homeruns with Binghamton (he hit one during a ‘rehab’ game with St. Lucie), he showed an impressive ability to hit doubles, finishing top-30 in the EL in just over half a season’s work – the EL doubles leader had 32. Also, he hit 11 homeruns combined in 2014 while playing in some tough home parks for homeruns (albeit against A-ball pitchers), so he’s shown the ability to knock some out, it just didn’t happen last year. Below I take a look at some trends from his 2015 splits with Binghamton, and then share a lot of hitting and fielding GIF’s at the bottom. I tried to GIF as much of Mazzilli as possible down the stretch since I had nothing on him from the first half.


Spray chart vs. LHP (on the left) and vs. RHP (on the right)


Table 1 – L.J. Mazzilli 2015 EL Splits by Month
Month
PA
AB/XBH
BB%
K%
BABIP
wRC+
GB%
SwStr%
Wh/Sw
June
91
13.3
11
17.6
.312
99
34.4
8.5
19.2
July
135
15.5
7.4
12.6
.318
95
42.9
8.2
18.6
August
116
20.4
10.3
18.1
.329
96
37
6.2
15
September
45
10
11.1
13.3
.265
85
33.3
5.9
14.5


Table 2 – L.J. Mazzilli 2015 EL Splits by Pitcher Handedness
Throws
PA
AB/XBH
BB%
K%
BABIP
wRC+
GB%
SwStr%
Wh/Sw
L
104
18.6
10.6
15.4
.299
85
42.1
6.2
13.6
R
283
14.1
9.2
15.5
.319
99
36.7
7.8
18.6


            I noted his streakiness, but his production was actually pretty similar month-to-month. Notice that his contact rate and groundball rate decreased as the season went on, which suggests he was getting more comfortable against AA pitching throughout the season, and perhaps starting to drive the ball more. The spray charts suggest that he’s more of a pull hitter vs. lefties and an all fields hitter vs. righties, but he hasn’t shown a big platoon advantage yet in his minor league career.


Table 3 – L.J. Mazzilli 2015 EL Splits by Batted Ball Type
Batted Ball
PA
BABIP
EL BABIP
wOBA
EL wOBA
Fly Ball
89
.125
.200
.170
.367
Groundball
112
.277
.247
.267
.236
Line Drive
65
.723
.705
.742
.750


Table 4 – L.J. Mazzilli 2015 EL Splits by Batted Ball Direction
Field
PA
%
AB/XBH
BABIP
EL BABIP*
wOBA
EL wOBA*
GB%
Center
82
28.7
16.4
.402
.355
.404
.376
30.5
Oppositeª
79
27.6
25.7
.114
.239
.121
.262
19.2
Pull
125
43.7
8.3
.384
.327
.404
.418
55.7
*RHB only
ªL.J. had a 19.2% Pop-up rate on balls hit to the opposite field


            Mazzilli was particularly unlucky on fly balls and balls in play to the opposite field, or specifically, on fly balls to RF – notice there are mostly orange boxes in RF on his spray charts. It’s possible his fly balls just have a really high average hang time – o, the limitations of minor league data – but that wasn’t something that stood out to me in 2015, although I’ll definitely be looking out for it this season. With that in mind, I’ve noticed that batters tend to have a higher pop up rate on balls hit the other way, so it could make sense that they would have a higher hang time on fly balls hit the other way. Either way, it would be nicer to look at the hang time data, but given that Mazzilli has always had an average or better BABIP on fly balls, it’s fair to assume it’ll bounce back this year, which could really help him impress at the plate.
            After the 2014 season, I put Mazzilli in the category of potential impact bench player, and I still stand by that. I’m not sure how his arm will play on the left side - third base is probably an option but he’s not more than an emergency shortstop option - but his any positional versatility will only help him earn that major league bench spot. The only question about his 2B defense is whether he can improve his glove work, as BA currently ranks him as below average at 2B, “based mostly on not having the softest hands.” And that’s an understandable stance, as most of his errors were fielding errors, and I remember him using his body to knock balls down more often than most second baseman (he already has the third baseman’s mindset, but has played only 1 game as a pro at 3B). But at least glove work (soft handedness?) is something Mazzilli can work on and improve with enough dedicated practice, and everything else about his game is good enough for 2B. Also, as a second baseman, he has more time to regain control of balls he doesn't handle cleanly and still make the out at 1B than any other position. At his best, I think he can be a fringe starter at 2B for a second division team, but his most likely role will be as a bench player who hits a lot of doubles and fills various roles for the team as they come up. I’d guess he starts the year back at AA to get regular PA’s, as the Las Vegas infield should be pretty crowded, but we’ll know for sure soon enough.





2015 Astromets Mind Coverage

7/1Single
7/5Single
7/8Double
8/5Single
9/6Double


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