Former Kickapoo standout drafted by Rays

Sports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — For Mason Auer, hearing his name called at the MLB Draft has long been a dream.

On Monday, that dream became reality.

“It felt like it was a long time,” Auer said about waiting to be selected. “But then, whenever the call happened I was there with my family and my friends.”

The Springfield native was taken in the 5th round, 161st overall by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It doesn’t even feel real. But I’ve worked really hard for this and I’ve been waiting a long time so I couldn’t be happier.”

His journey to the draft started at Kickapoo high school, where the outfielder and pitcher was twice all-state and realized early his dream of making the professional level was within reach.

“Probably like my freshman or sophomore year I just kind of started seeing the way I was playing and the way I compared to other people. Around that time is when I started realizing that this could be a real possibility for me.”

From there, he had some tough decisions to make.

Like giving up on football for his senior year after a standout junior year at quarterback.

“That was definitely a very hard decision for me. I loved playing football, but I had the end goal in my mind. With all the opportunities that were in front of me my senior year, I just felt that was the best decision.”

But Auer dedicated himself to baseball – and that got him to Missouri State.

Though there, he reached another tough decision after COVID held him to just nine at-bats and three innings pitched

“Didn’t play as much as I wanted to. That’s how it goes sometimes. I entered the transfer portal and found the place for me. And it worked out pretty well.”

That place was San Jacinto Junior College in Texas, where Auer finally got his chance – and made the most of it.

Batting .373 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs for a Gators group that went all the way to the JUCO World Series.

A spotlight that first brought an offer from Oregon, and now one from the Rays who had kept their eyes on him.

“I talked to them a couple times. They had been coming and watching me play. Honestly, I didn’t know who was going to pick me. I’m really excited to get into that program. They have a really good track record of turning guys into big leaguers.”

Auer says he’ll be taking the offer and joining the pros.

Shipping off to Florida on Sunday for his physical and paperwork.

“I have the rest of this week to just kind of relax and hang out with my family and friends. Then pretty much a quick turnaround and back to business.”

Back to business with one goal achieved – and another just starting.

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