— Alex Lanzillotti (@LanzillottiAlex) March 12, 2021
A year ago as a sophomore, right handed pitcher Alex Lanzillotti was an unassuming varsity hopeful at Fairfield Prep.
He flashed a solid low 80s fastball along with a decent slider, but Lanzillotti was not in the greatest shape and was not viewed as much of a difference maker.
However, a lot can change in a year, and after having his varsity hopes stripped when the spring season was canceled, the Stamford native decided to make the most of his down time and rededicate himself to baseball.
Lanzillotti, whose fastball currently tops out at 93 mph, committed to pitch at Northeastern University last week — without having pitched a single inning of varsity baseball.
“He’s a guy who didn’t get to have a sophomore year,” Fairfield Prep coach Rudy Mauritz said. “He pitched on our freshman team and from what I understand he has grown quite a bit and is throwing hard, but we still have to go out there and see what he can do.”
The Division I recruit spent his summer playing for The Clubhouse travel team out of Fairfield after the American Legion baseball season was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Right before tryouts we all got sent home for what we thought would be two weeks,” Lanzillotti said. “Turned out to be the rest of the year, and I was freaking out a little bit. Then Legion got canceled and I had nowhere to play.”
The Clubhouse gave Lanzillotti a home for the summer, and would eventually help him reach new levels on the mound.
“That’s when I started to take things super seriously,” Lanzillotti said. “I was topping out at 85 mph at that point, and they put me on a team. I played over the summer with them and after I decided to put work in and get my body right.”
At the Clubhouse he linked up with pitching director JJ Campbell, a former minor leaguer in the Dodgers organization and a member of Stony Brook’s improbable run during the 2012 College World Series.
“Last fall is when Alex started working with me,” Campbell said. “He was in there for hours each week throughout the winter. He trusted the process and ran with the information he got. His work ethic is the biggest thing.”
Campbell has been using his professional experience along with his understanding of spin and pitching mechanics to help mold the Clubhouse into a nationally recognizable travel team.
“When in pro ball, spin rate and understanding what spin does started getting a lot bigger,” Campbell said. “It was all a new concept for me when I first started, but the more research and the more I see, it’s blatantly obvious that it has changed the game and is something that can be used to become a better pitcher.”
While working with Campbell, Lanzillotti also began to build strength and get into better shape.
“I started to jump in velocity,” Lanzillotti said. “I go to Advanced Therapy Performance in Stamford, which helped me with a lot of my strength training. I also started a new weighted ball throwing program and JJ fixed a ton of mechanical issues to help with my timing.”
The jumps in velocity have been steady, with Lanzillotti reaching 93 mph in a recent bullpen session.
New PR of 93.3mph during live AB’s. pic.twitter.com/8QHDAB1OZz
— Alex Lanzillotti (@LanzillottiAlex) March 14, 2021
“In the fall he was an 84-86 mph guy, and he could only really hold that for about 10 pitches before burning out,” Campbell said. “Now he’s a guy who can top 93 and sits 89-91 for 45 pitches pretty easily.”
Along with his big fastball, Lanzillotti has worked to develop his secondary pitches, a sharp slider and a newer split-change as an effective third offering.
Despite his big collegiate-level arm and the drastic changes Lanzillotti has made since 2019, he knows nothing is a given.
“I will have to compose myself and not think too much,” Lanzillotti said. “I know what I can do, it got me to this DI commitment so I know I have the stuff to play varsity. I just need to dial it in and make sure I perform.”
Though Lanzillotti’s situation is unique, he isn’t even the only player at his own school that is expected to have made a large jump forward.
“Davis Wallon made a big jump last year and started throwing a lot harder,” Mauritz said. “He’s a senior this year who has been sitting high 80s and touching low 90s.”
Wallon was a sophomore for the Fairfield Prep varsity team in 2019. He is also another product of the Clubhouse and Campbell’s coaching, committing to DI Richmond in October.
“Wallon has always had an electric arm, but he made a few mechanical adjustments,” Campbell said. “This summer he started relaxing and learning to trust his stuff out there. That was a big turning point for him. He works his butt off, he’s been in the gym and he listens to the information he gets.”
Wallon was unable to showcase the jumps he made before his crucial junior season was canceled, making recruitment more difficult.
“Video has been huge,” Campbell said. “Davis got seen a little because of Perfect Game Tournaments last year, but for Alex it was a bit different. Last year he wasn’t at the point of being a DI recruit-level kid yet, so getting video was huge for him to show that his stuff plays. I think this is a weird situation; those guys who took the opportunity to develop in that time benefited. So much can change in one year.”
With Wallon leading the rotation and Lanzillotti likely following behind him, Fairfield Prep could have a dangerous one-two punch on its hands.
“I think that our rotation is going to be very strong,” Lanzillotti said. “Davis is a very good competitor, when he gets on the mound he knows what he wants to do. I think we’re going to be very intimidating for any hitter that gets in the box.”