Adam Mazur thinks it’s “kind of perfect” the way the timing all worked out.
Right as his former high school teammate, Max Meyer, makes his way out of minor league baseball and into the bigs — Meyer was slated to make his MLB debut on the mound in Miami on Sunday — Mazur will begin his pro journey.
Mazur is expected to be selected within the first few rounds of the MLB Draft, which begins Sunday. The Woodbury High School alum is expected to be selected either in the first two rounds Sunday, or very early in the action Monday.
“Ready for a long night (Sunday), no matter what happens. It’s going to be a big waiting game,” Mazur said. “Excited to get after it and really happy that this is even an opportunity.”
Growing up, Mazur, who ranks in the top 60 of just about every pre-draft prospect list, always thought this was possible, to hear his name called in the draft and get a shot at pro baseball. But it becoming a sure thing — and to have his name be called so early in the process as a top-flight pitcher — is a development that occurred within the last year.
Mazur wasn’t really a pitcher until his junior year of high school. He largely just stuck to the field through his sophomore season, with Meyer eating up a healthy number of innings for the Royals.
“After you lose a guy like Meyer, there’s definitely holes in the pitching staff, so it was kind of perfect timing where it was his first year not on the team and the first year that I actually really became a pitcher,” Mazur said.
He displayed enough dominance on the mound to garner Division-I attention and went on to sign with South Dakota State. Mazur entered college knowing he had a lot to learn and was eager to grow and develop.
That’s what made it so difficult when the Jackrabbits’ pitching coach left the program prior to the season starting in 2020. The program didn’t replace him that year, leaving Mazur to simply lean on the older pitchers on staff.
South Dakota State didn’t hire a pitching coach until just before Mazur’s sophomore season, far too late to make any realistic headway before games ratcheted up.
Mazur was South Dakota State’s No. 1 weekend starter in each of his first two seasons. And while his numbers weren’t gaudy — with an ERA north of 5 — he was pleased with his results given he was still a two-pitch pitcher. The lack of available resources at South Dakota State led Mazur to the decision to transfer. But he didn’t know where he wanted to go. Finding his next destination was one of the things he wanted to get out of Cape Cod League, an elite summer league for college players, in 2021, among other things.
“Coming in, I wasn’t worried about the draft. I was just going in and trying to prove people wrong,” Mazur said. “Being from a small school like South Dakota State, where people from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia haven’t really heard of it, you go in there and they’re like ‘Where are you from?’ And you tell them and they all look at you weird and they’re wondering how you got out here.”
He quickly showed he belonged in the Cape Cod League. He went 3-0 in six starts, posting a 1.55 earned-run average while developing his changeup to go along with his slider and fastball. During the process, he developed a strong connection with Iowa, from hour-long Zoom calls with pitching coach Robin Lund to Hawkeyes head coach Rick Heller coming out to his first start. He eventually committed to Iowa.
The Hawkeyes gave Mazur what he had longed for — a plan, from fall to winter to spring. Lund worked hard with Mazur on his lower-body mechanics, and helped the 6-foot-2, 180-pound righty develop his curveball to become a four-pitch starter.
The results speak for themselves. Mazur went 7-2 this spring with a 3.05 ERA, striking out 90 batters in 88⅔ innings en route to becoming the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.
It was a rapid ascension for the 21-year-old, who still feels as though he’s just getting to know the craft.
“I feel like I can get a lot better. I feel like I can hone in on the changeup a little bit more, kind of get even more comfortable with the curveball and really clean up the lower half a lot more, too. I feel like there’s room to grow there, as well,” Mazur said. “Only having one true season with a pitching coach and making that many improvements, I feel like with two, three, four, five years more, I’m going to be able to be a lot better. I’m just really excited for that and excited for what the future has in store.”
Mazur stays in touch with Meyer, and is hopeful he’ll be able to watch his former teammate’s big-league debut this weekend. He said the former Gophers pitcher laid the groundwork at Woodbury for him to follow.
“I got to see his mentality on the mound and just to see the way he went about the game,” Mazur said. “I was trying to be like a sponge and just absorb it as much as I could. He was definitely a lot of help throughout high school and this whole college process.”
In the clip released of Meyer receiving his call-up to the majors this week, it was revealed that upon being drafting, Meyer said he just wanted to “win a ring” in the big leagues.
Mazur appears to be just as competitive.
“No matter what I’m doing or where I’m playing, I want to win and always want to improve myself and get better,” he said. “No matter what’s going on, if I’m losing and I’m not playing well, not doing well, whatever it is, I’m going to be upset, I’m going to be cranky. Winning is definitely the most important thing to me.”
And he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
“I definitely know there are areas I can improve on,” Mazur said, “so I’m excited to get to work with whoever it is and improve myself even more.”