LAS VEGAS — Cory Mazzoni sees Jacob de Grom pitching well with the New York Mets and wishes he could be there.
Bad luck on the last day of spring training set the 24-year-old Seneca Valley graduate back.
A strained lat suffered on March 27 ended up leading to a three-month rehab stint before he landed with New York's Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s.
It was disappointing for Mazzoni.
“Especially since some of the guys I played with, like Jake de Grom, seeing him now in the big leagues pitching well,” Mazzoni said. “It's frustrating that I can't be in the same situation, but I can't dwell on that.”
Mazzoni was pitching against the Washington Nationals March 27 in major league camp when he left with soreness in his tricep.
The Mets' doctors diagnosed him with a lat strain and he had to rehab.
Before making his first start in Las Vegas July 18, Mazzoni was well traveled.
He pitched with the Mets' Rookie and Class A teams in Florida before heading to Binghamton, N.Y., for two starts with their Double A affiliate.
Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola Jr. liked what he saw along the way.
“I watched Cory rehab in (Single A) St. Lucie and I've never seen the fear factor,” Viola said. “He's not worried about the next pitch injuring him. He goes full throttle.”
He's made eight starts between the four levels and has a 4-2 record with a 4.57 ERA.
Mazzoni is 2-1 with Las Vegas with a 4.43 ERA.
Viola thinks his off-speed pitches have looked good, he just needs some tinkering with his mechanics.
“That he's healthy. He looks really good,” Viola said. “He's also a little rusty. His fastball command is off, but the velocity is there.”
Mazzoni enjoys having some of Viola's stature to help him out.
Viola was the MVP of the 1987 World Series with the Minnesota Twins and won the American League Cy Young award in 1988.
“He's great to be around. He keeps it fun and simple,” Mazzoni said. “He tries not to pick your brain too much. Every day, he makes it fun to be at the ballpark.”
Regaining command of his fastball has been Viola's key area of concern for Mazzoni. His off-speed pitches — a slider and split-finger fastball — have looked good.
Mazzoni's fastball has been between 92 and 94 miles per hour.
“I think bullpen sessions are of upmost importance if you don't have innings in,” Viola said. “That's where you have to concentrate on your fastball. Bullpen sessions are more important than the results.”
There have been reports that Mazzoni, one of the highest-regarded pitching prospects in the Mets' system, could end up in the majors as a relief pitcher.
Mazzoni, who has been used as a starting pitcher professionally, wouldn't mind either way.
As long as he joins his buddies he's watched on TV at the next level.
“I feel like I could do either,” Mazzoni said. “I relieved my first year in college. I feel like I could start, too.”