Pick 78: Mariners select Mason Erla, RHP Michigan State
Mason Erla is a player who was helped a lot by having a 2020 season. Though he was a weekend starter for Michigan State as a freshman and sophomore, he wasn’t on many scouts radar. He had mediocre stuff and control and appeared to be just another college arm who may be drafted to fill out a roster.
But Erla made a decision to forgo summer ball and decided instead to train and build his arm and the decision has made him a legitimate prospect. He returned this spring with new life on his fastball. Instead of sitting in the upper 80s and occasionally hitting 91 MPH, he was sitting 92-94 and topped out at 98 MPH with life up in the zone.
His program also improved the slider, which sits in the mid-80s that he can firm up and use as a cutter as well. The changeup needs work and is currently a fringe-average offering, but the pitch has shown good sink and is thrown with good arm action, giving Erla a shot at a third offering.
Erla’s newfound “stuff” leads to an increase in his strikeout rate (from 6.7 to 14.2) and allowed Erla to attack hitter rather than nibble.
If Erla had shown this ability in 2019, he’d likely be in the conversation for the backend of round one. But thanks to a microscopic track record and a labrum injury in his past, Erla will now go in the back half of the Top 100.
A good athlete with prototypical size and smooth delivery, Erla has a shot to be a #3 starter if the changeup develops and he maintains his 2020 stuff.