Sal Gozzo didn’t hear his name called in last week’s MLB Draft, but the Wallingford native has still realized his dream of signing a pro contract.
Gozzo, a 6-foot switch-hitting shortstop, inked with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Fla.
“It’s always been a dream of mine and to make it a reality is a surreal,” Gozzo said shortly after signing. “You don’t believe it until it actually happens. I’m ecstatic and ready to get started.”
Gozzo and his twin brother Paul were standout players at Sheehan and then at the Division I college level. Sal just finished his junior season at Tulane and Paul wrapped up his junior campaign at UConn.
Paul Gozzo, a catcher, will play summer ball in the Cape Cod League with the Bourne Braves.
At Sheehan, the Gozzos were four-year starters who helped guide the Titans to the 2015 Class M championship and the state’s overall No. 1 ranking.
“I’m thrilled,” Sheehan baseball coach Matt Altieri said Tuesday. “I’m so happy for Sal. I just felt like he deserved the opportunity. He’s worked so hard. He obviously has a ton of talent. He started for me as a freshman and wasn’t fazed by it at all. His defense is his strength.”
Gozzo becomes the second player from Sheehan’s 2015 state championship team to turn pro. Pitcher Zach Hart, who went to Franklin Pierce, was drafted in the 10th round by the Cleveland Indians.
“(The Phillies) called me a couple of times during the draft, but nothing went through,” Gozzo said. “But they called me after the draft and asked if I wanted to sign as a free agent. I was happy they wanted to give me the opportunity.”
Gozzo flew down to Florida on Saturday and went through a physical.
“We have a mini-camp this week until Saturday,” Gozzo said. “We will either get sent somewhere or stay here (in Clearwater). As a free agent, I will probably stay here for a couple of weeks depending how I perform.”
Both Gozzos were three-year captains at Sheehan. They were co-All-Record-Journal Baseball Players of the Year in 2016.
As an All-State senior at Sheehan, Sal Gozzo led the Titans to the state semifinals with a .375 average with a dozen RBI and stolen bases.
At Tulane. Gozzo started 41 games at shortstop as a freshman, all 57 games in his sophomore year and 55 contests this spring.
“College was a different experience than high school,” Gozzo said. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve had some of the best friends and teammates here. It will never forget my time at Tulane. It’s prepared me for life, whether that’s in baseball or getting another job. With my college experience and playing baseball at Tulane, I couldn’t be more thankful for that experience.”
Gozzo finished his junior year with a .219 batting average and a .969 fielding percentage for the 32-26 Green Wave.
“I want to improve every day in every aspect of my game,” Gozzo said. “I need to work on my game offensively. I will take it a day at a time. It’s going to be tough baseball, but you have to have fun with it.”
Gozzo is not the first in his family to play pro baseball. His father, Mauro “Goose” Gozzo is a former MLB pitcher. The Berlin native played six years with the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. Goose Gozzo is now manager of the independent Atlantic League’s New Britain Bees.
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