Former JPII Knight excited to begin his big league journey
Imagine having your life change for the better in a blink of an eye.
Years of hard work, sacrifice and commitment paying off to the tune of a lifelong dream realized.
That is what happened for former Vanderbilt University pitcher Mason Hickman Thursday night when he received the phone call all little leaguers dream of getting.
With the 154th pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft, the Cleveland Indians selected Hickman with their final pick.
“It was late in the night (when I received the phone call), but it was a special moment for my family and me,” Hickman told Main Street Preps. “To have my lifelong dream come true and to share it with my family, I was extremely happy. I am looking forward to being in the Indians organization. They do a fantastic job with player development, and I am excited to be a part of it and see where it takes me.”
With so many unknowns surrounding the future of Major League Baseball, Hickman is using his time productively, staying sharp mentally and physically.
“The only thing you can do with your time is choose to spend it wisely,” he said. “We are in a rare circumstance and are given a great chance to develop our mind and body.”
Hickman will stick with the routine that has gotten him this far. His method has produced a body of work that includes a 19-2 record over his college career. He ended his career as a Commodore with an 11-game win streak.
Hickman made his name known nationally in the winner-take-all 2019 College World Series Game 3 against Michigan, striking out 10 batters and allowing just one run over six innings.
Before COVID-19 ended his junior season, Hickman gave up just one earned run over 18.2 innings with a 2-0 record.
He describes himself as a laser-focused individual on the mound that needs to get the job done to feel satisfied with his performance. He studies his strengths and attacks his opponents’ weaknesses on game day. Hickman’s consistency has created confidence for the 6-foot-6 right-handed hurler from Hendersonville.
“The biggest emphasis for a pitcher is to win - that is the goal every time I step on the mound,” he said. “Knowing that I was able to do that is super rewarding. The pitcher has a huge role in creating energy and flow to the game, and for me to be able to do that week in and week out was of huge importance to me.”
Said MLB Network’s Dan O’ Dowd: “I love this pick. Mason is a guy you have to evaluate differently. He pitches at the top of the strike zone and has tremendous deception. His fastball sits 89-91 mph, but it plays up. He’s got a good top-to-bottom breaking ball, he’s got a changeup, and he’s a strike-thrower. And he wins. He’s won since he showed up on the Vanderbilt campus.”
There are still several discussions when it comes to where the Indians will send all five of their draft selections and how much they can pay them. Hickman is not worried about where or when he has to show up or how much money he is getting paid.
“This is a dream come true, and I cannot worry about those things right now,” he said. “Whatever plan is put in place, I know the Indians will be well prepared to move forward with the next steps.”
Now that Hickman moves forward in his baseball career, he says investing in every facet of his game is of utmost importance.
“I’m in a whole other level of baseball now, and I need to improve everything,” he said. “There is not one area of my game I can overlook. The bar has been raised, and now I have a different goal in mind, and that is to make a big league roster.”
Hickman will continue to work out with his trainer in Franklin while also staying close to the Vanderbilt program.
“Vanderbilt is a very special place, and I think you see that when all the pros come back,” he said. “There is no one you become closer with than the coaches and players throughout your career, and it is imperative to me to keep those relationships.”
Entering his junior season, Hickman was selected First Team Preseason All-America by Collegiate Baseball and Second Team Preseason All-America by Perfect Game.