Cory Mazzoni wouldn't go as far as saying he was nervous heading into his Double-A debut. Fidgety? Maybe. Jumpy? A little. But nervous? Not at all. He knows he has the ability to compete at this level.
The Mets' No. 19 prospect tossed a five-hitter for his first career complete game as the Binghamton Mets shut down the Akron Aeros, 5-1, to salvage a split of their doubleheader.
Mazzoni (1-0) walked one batter and struck out four in the seven-inning contest. It was the first time he went the distance since his junior season at North Carolina State.
"I think having self-belief is the main thing," he said. "Everyone here has the stuff to get to the big leagues, but you have to trust your stuff. If you have a couple rough outings, it isn't huge. That's the biggest thing.
"My pitching coach in St. Lucie, Phil Regan, has a lot of baseball experience, so I wanted to learn from him. He told me to trust myself and to have confidence out there. He told me not to doubt my pitches and to know exactly what I want to throw. He told me to work ahead, not to get down on myself and to have good self-belief."
Mazzoni never had any reason to doubt his stuff on Wednesday. He allowed a first-inning run on a double, a wild pitch and an infield hit, but that was all the offense the Aeros mustered against the Pennsylvania native.
Mazzoni faced one batter over the minimum over the next two innings. He fielded a comebacker and started an inning-ending to get out of a jam in the fourth. That came after Adam Abraham was thrown out trying to score from third on a ground ball to the left side. No other Aero reached third base.
"It was the first start [at Double-A], so I was trying to throw strikes," said Mazzoni, who uncorked three wild pitches. "I wouldn't say there were too many nerves, maybe some early-inning jitters.
"My fastball command was pretty good and I was able to attack both sides of the plate. I was getting ahead with my fastball and then able to mix in my other pitches the next time through the order, like throwing changeups in fastball counts."
Selected in the second round of the 2011 Draft, the 22-year-old right-hander was promoted to Binghamton after going 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts with St. Lucie. He struck out 48 batters while walking only 16 over 63 2/3 innings.
"It was nice to help the team out with a win today and it was good to get out there and get my debut out of the way," said Mazzoni, who utilizes a fastball that tops out around 95 mph, a slider and a low-80s split-finger changeup.
"Kai Gronauer behind the plate was awesome and he called a great game. Whatever he put down, I agreed with, and the defense was outstanding and made all the plays. I was getting a little winded at the end, but it was good. I was still hitting my spots pretty well."
Mazzoni is expected to remain in Binghamton for the rest of the season.
"I want to command all of my pitches; you can never have enough command," he said. "I want to locate my fastball better, throw my breaking balls for strikes and throw it in the dirt for strike three swinging. The Mets are big on throwing changeups, so I will work on that."
Gronauer helped his batterymate by going 2-for-3 with a two-run single.
Akron starter Francisco Jimenez (0-1) surrendered five runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out two over 3 2/3 innings.
In the opener, T.J. House spun a two-hitter as the Aeros blanked the Mets, 2-0. He walked two, struck out four and retired his final nine batters to outduel Zack Wheeler.
The Mets' top prospect went six innings and gave up two runs on four hits.