The Michigan State Spartans baseball team did not have the season that most fans expected, but MSU baseball received some positive news on Tuesday when outgoing redshirt junior and right-handed pitcher Mason Erla was drafted in the the 17th round (and No. 501 overall) of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
The Cass City, Michigan native led the Pitching staff for the Spartans in several categories in 2021, including games started (13), innings pitched (79.2), strikeouts (80), and wins (five). Erla finished the season with a record of 5-6 and with an ERA of 3.50.
Erla’s 243 career strikeouts place him in third place all-time in the Michigan State record book, despite having played in shortened seasons in three of five campaigns in East Lansing.
Erla arrived in East Lansing in 2017. He started two games during his freshman year, but suffered a season-ending injury and was granted a medical redshirt.
In 2018, Erla started 15 games for the Spartans and accumulated a record of 6-4 with an ERA of 3.73 and a total of 57 strikeouts. He was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on March 12 that year for his one-hit performance against Illinois, and was eventually named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
In 2019, Erla started 14 games for the Spartans, including a the historic first-ever night home game played at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field on April 5 against Indiana State. Erla accumulated 61 total strikeouts, but posted a record of just 2-10 in his sophomore campaign.
In the shortened 2020 season, Erla started four games and posted a 2-0 record and an incredible 42 strikeouts and an ERA of just 1.04. Based on these accomplishments, Erla was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
During the summer of 2020, Erla was ranked No. 170 by Baseball America and would have likely been taken in the first 10 rounds. But, the MLB draft was shortened to only five rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Erla delayed the start of his professional career by a year. Today, his dream of being drafted by a Major League team became a reality.