Radeke is out to prove everyone wrong
Mason Radeke is playing with something to prove.
The Lake County right hander, who has also appeared in three contests for Double-A Akron in his first full season, is not only working each day to get better, but is also pitching to show that he belongs.
The 6’1”, 175 pound right hander, who celebrated his 22nd birthday Wednesday, was selected by the Indians in the 35th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft after finishing his senior season at Cal Poly. Although being drafted was a dream come true, Radeke will be motivated by the words ‘35th round draft choice’ attached to his name for the rest of his baseball career.
“Draft day was not my favorite day,” said the Captain’s reliever. “I was expecting [to go] higher and when I didn’t get picked the first day it was kind of a letdown. I have to come out here and prove that I’m better than a 35th round pick.”
Radeke was selected by the White Sox in the 41st round of the 2008 draft after graduating from Santa Barbara High School in Santa Barbara, California, but elected to attend Cal Poly instead of signing.
By his junior year, Radeke became a weekend starter for the Mustangs, posting an 8-4 record with a 3.07 ERA. He finished second in the Big West Conference with 95 strikeouts, including 14 in one game against Valparaiso. The command and stuff shown by the All-Big West first teamer prompted the Indians to take him in the 2011 Draft.
However, after starting last season for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the organization decided to bring Radeke out of the bullpen this season.
“As a reliever, you don’t have the set routine [that] you have as a starter, so you have to be ready every day,” said Radeke of the adjustment. “But the approach is still the same. You go out there and try to keep the ball down, throw strikes, get ahead, and get guys out.”
The decision to move the former Cal Poly starter to the bullpen has paid dividends for the Captains this season. In 14 appearances for Lake County, Radeke has posted a 3-1 record and a 3.16 ERA. Although he now pitches in relief, he continues to work multiple innings, having tossed 37 frames on the year and never pitching less than 2 innings in an appearance.
“When I first came out, I was doing well out of spring training, [but then] I kind of lost it for a bit,” said Radeke of his season. “I have been working on some different mechanical adjustments and feel like in the last couple outings it’s finally kicked in and I’m starting to get into a groove.”
In the month of June, Radeke has found his stride, throwing 8.1 shutout innings and striking out 13 opposing hitters. He has given up just four hits and earned a win on June 4 against Fort Wayne.
Those 13 punch outs come as no surprise. Throughout his career, whether it was striking out 120 batters his senior year of high school or posting a rate of over one strikeout per inning this year, Radeke’s mindset has always been geared towards not letting hitters put the ball in play.
“My approach is that I want to strike out every guy looking,” said the right hander, who fans 10 hitters per nine innings. “I want to go out there and throw three strikes and get him out.”
As one would expect from a pitcher who strikes out so many opposing hitters, Radeke takes a no nonsense approach.
“My favorite pitch for a strikeout is a fastball outside,” said the Lake County reliever. “I have always had the ability to hit that corner.”
Although Radeke has pitched for Lake County and Akron this season, he has remained a firm believer in himself and his attitude towards pitching. No matter where he is pitching, whether it is at Classic Park in front of cheering fans, a side session to work on his mechanics, or maybe even Progressive Field one day, Mason Radeke will remain consistent.
“[As you move up] the quality of hitters is better, they’re more patient and the zone is a litter tighter, but the approach is still the same,” said Radeke. “If you make good pitches, you get quality hitters out.”
On every level he has pitched, Radeke has been a constant picture of success. Ultimately, his story will be built around that one word because when you are consistent, everything else falls into place.
“I hope to keep doing what I am doing right now,” said Radeke of his goals for the future. “I want to continue to throw strikes, get guys out…and keep doing well.”
Throughout his baseball career, Mason Radeke will always think of the 34 rounds that passed before his name was called in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. However, if his recent performance is any indicator of what the future holds, Mason Radeke will soon make people forget in what round he was drafted.
Instead, Radeke will leave them with the lasting image of a fastball painting the outside corner, which sends another hitter back to the visiting dugout and moves him one step closer to achieving his goal of one day pitching in the Major Leagues.