As an athlete, every kid’s dream is to make it to the pros and to hear their name called on Draft Day.
Lehigh junior and star baseball pitcher Mason Black may get to accomplish that goal.
In July, Black was listed as the No. 31 college prospect for the 2021 MLB Draft by Baseball America.
Black grew up in Archbald, Pennsylvania, about 90 minutes north of Lehigh. While his hometown underwent strict quarantine this summer, Black was not there. Instead, he spent his summer in the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League perfecting his craft and working toward his goal of being drafted.
Black said the countless number of great coaches at Lehigh and in Florida put him in a good spot both physically and mentally.
“It was very impressive that Mason [Black] was able to stay focused and dedicated during a challenging and unique set of circumstances,” said Lehigh head coach Sean Leary. “[This] summer has created a strong buzz and many scouts and teams are talking about him as a potential first-round pick, but I know Mason’s mindset will be to stay humble and to keep working hard.”
Lehigh baseball’s primary weapon boasts a diverse arsenal of deliveries highlighted by his 100 mph fastball. While Black is excited that he was highly ranked, he knows there’s still a long way to go.
“[It’s] still nine months away, and I can’t get too far ahead of myself,” he said, “[But] it is certainly motivating to see how highly I’m ranked.”
Although he was new to the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League this year, Black’s exceptional performance in Florida was not a surprise to anyone.
Last summer, Black played in the Cape Cod Summer League where he went 3-0, finishing with a 1.47 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.
“He had a tremendous summer in the Cape Cod League in 2019,” Leary said. “By the end of last summer, Mason was firmly on every team’s radar for the 2021 draft.”
This summer, Black mirrored that success, going 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Considering the trials and tribulations of the pandemic are likely to persist into the spring semester, leadership — on the mound, in the dugout, and in the classroom — will be especially important this season.
“Mason is a leader on the team. He works hard and has good relationships with his teammates,” said sophomore catcher Adam Retzbach. “If the postponements, protests, and lockouts that have defined this summer’s return to baseball are any indication, one way or another, it’s going to be an interesting spring.”
With the spring season still in question, individual practices can begin Sept. 7, and as the semester progresses, the team hopes to eventually have larger group work and maybe even inter-squad competitions.
Regardless of the circumstances, the Mountain Hawks — and Black — are working to stay prepared.
“Mason leads a very talented and focused pitching staff,” Leary said. “Matt Svanson, Luke Rettig, and a contingent of other talented arms will put Lehigh strongly in the mix for a run at the Patriot League Championship. Right now, our spring season is the number one focus for everyone on our roster.”
If the MLB doesn’t pan out for Black, he said he hopes to attend medical school.