Being a baseball player and the son of a former Major Leaguer isn't always easy growing up...But sometimes it can be used as a positive...L.J. Mazzilli used it to his advantage. It gave him a chance to play college baseball and earn a shot at a dream, playing Major League Baseball.
While Dad played for 5 different teams, including the Mets twice, where he was an All Star in 1979, helping the National League come from behind and beating the American League 7-6 in Seattle where Dave Parker stole the show with his throwing arm, LJ or kids weren't even a thought...that until finishing his 14 year career in 1989 as a Toronto Blue Jay.
As a kid, his Mom Dani was tossing balls to him in the backyard and at the age of 12, he won a Little League Home Run Derby Contest...And growing up while dad was a coach for the Yankees, he was lucky enough to hang around Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter...While admiring the swing of Alex Rodriquez and the balance of same...After spending two years at Greenwich High School, better known for Football and Lacrosse, LJ spent a year at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY...and his senior year at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. His summers back home were with Team Connecticut Baseball where he played on back to back AAU Championship Teams...in 2009 was named The Team's Golden Bat winner and the #1 Connecticut Prospect.
Like his two sisters, including twin sister Lacey, L.J. was off to play baseball at UConn. His freshman year was 2010...a team that was loaded with the likes of Mike Olt. Mike Nemeth, George Springer and Nick Ahmed....Mazzilli was named the starting second baseman where Mazzilli and Ahmed became quite a pair up the middle. That 2010 season was a record setting year offensively very impressive, a .322 average, 750 hits, 492 rbi, 140 doubles and 83 homers. And with a star studded cast, Mazzilli was a .300 hitter (.312) that included a 4/6 - 4 rbi day against CCSU in Norwich. Where the Huskies lost in the Regionals twice to Oregon in a 48-16 season. After his freshman year, he played with Wareham of the Cape League.....
The 2011 season was just as successful, a 45 win season that saw the Huskies win the Big East..and Mazzilli was right in the middle of it..leading the team with a .338 average, 93 hits, 23 doubles and 5 triples that earned him 2nd Team All Big East where the Huskies went 2-2 at the Big East Tournament...But earned a two seed in the Clemson Regional. Where the Huskies came out of the losers bracket..Mazzilli, the leadoff hitter, went 3-6, scored three and drove in two in eliminating Coastal Carolina. Then in a 2/5 effort in game one against Clemson, scored the Game Winning run on Ryan Fuller's rbi single to earn the winner take all game then next night...L.J. two more hits and three runs scored in the 14-1 rout that sent UConn to the Super Regional against South Carolina..But Mazzilli just one hit in the two games as Gamecock Pitching shut down the UConn bats..He'd join Wareham of the Cape League for a second summer..
Now 2012 and the big names gone, L.J. Mazzilli and Billy Ferriter would help bridge the Huskies the next two seasons. in a 31-27-1 Junior Campaign, Mazzilli would move to the three spot, and after a 1-8 struggle in two losses to Mississippi Stae, L.J. went thru his swing frame by frame. His hip was flying open and to change, he started taking the ball to right center and he took off.Hitting .339 with 81 hits that featured 19 doubles, a March 15 game hit streak that included 5 homer runs in 6 games where Mazzilli was named first team All Big East..As Jim Penders told the Courant's Dom Amore, when he uses the whole field, he's as dangerous a hitter as there is in College Baseball...And the Twins drafted him in the 9th round, but Mazzilli decided to finish his career with UConn first.
In the fall of 2012, it was becoming clear that the Big East as we knew it was coming to an end. Meaning the spring season of 2013 would be baseball's last hurrah...And it wasn't easy as despite a 35-28 record, the Huskies limped into Clearwater as the 8th seed...Just 1-11 in it's last 12 conference games..getting swept by ranked teams USF, Notre Dame and Louisville. There wasn't much expected of the Huskies in the last Big East Tournament..But inside the locker room, Jim Penders made them believe...It started opening night with a stunning 3-2, 12 inning win over top seed Louisville. Mazzilli with two hits in the win....The next night against USF, the Bulls jumped out to a 7-0 lead thru 4 1/2 innings...the Huskies put up six, all with two out in the bottom half before single runs in the 8th and 9th won it...The winner on a wild pitch...Mazzilli with a key rbi single in the rally to send the Huskies to a Semi-Final Showdown with Rutgers...Mazzilli's first inning double scored the games' first run, then he scored on a wild pitch...The only two runs the Huskies would need in a 2-1 win...Onto the title game and the lowest two seeds were in the final...UConn & Notre Dame. While Anthony Marzi was dazzling in the mound with a complete game, Mazzilli gave UConn a big jolt with a two run blast and thru three led 6-0 en route to an 8-1 win that put the Huskies into the NCAA Tournament...Had a big rbi single and two hits in a big 5-2 win at Virginia Tech..It would be the Huskies last win as the Huskies suffered a tough 12 inning loss to Oklahoma, followed by a 3-1 loss to the Host Hokies to end the season. Mazzilli, who added 2nd Team All American Honors to his second First Team All Big East Honor, hit .354 with 92 hits that led the Big East...6 HR and 51 rbi...134 total bases, 2nd in the league and named the Team MVP as season's end...
In his four seasons playing baseball at UConn, L.J. Mazzilli hit .340 in 212 games..had 887 at bats (4th), scored 156 runs (7th), 295 hits (2nd), a school record 13 triples, 67 doubles (2nd), 139 rbi (10th), 60 stolen bases (6th), and 451 total bases (3rd)...Along with Mike Nemeth, Mazzilli is the only other Husky with a pair of 90 hit seasons..and on defense at second base and a little bit of center field, L.J. racked up 502 assists (5th).
Following the loss to Virginia Tech, the Mets, his Dad's first team, drafted him in the 4th round where he played with Brooklyn of the NY-Penn League...where he hit .278 and was named an All-Star...An All Star again in 2014 with Savannah of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .292 and drove in 45 runs...he played with AAA Vegas in the PCL Playoffs...2015 didn't start well for L.J. testing positive for drugs and suspended 50 games..He spent the rest of 15' and all of 2016 in AA Binghamton. He was traded to the Yankees and released..played all of 2019 in the Independent League with the Long Island Ducks..his season earned him a chance with the White Sox for 2020..But the Covid Virus killed the Minor League season as Chicago released him...
When you consider the talent Jim Penders had during the 2009-13 stretch, The UConn Head Coach called Mazzilli the best right handed swing he's had in his tenure, that's saying a lot !! "Big Personality and fun to be around." Hopefully 2021 give L.J. one last shot at the Majors...L.J. Mazzilli, one of the great hitters in Husky Baseball History and a UConn Legend..