With last week’s MLB draft shortened from 40 rounds to five this year due to the pandemic, all draft-eligible players not selected were free to sign with any organization starting Sunday – for a meager $20,000 signing bonus.
One of those players who took advantage of the signing period on the first day has local ties.
Left-handed starter Mac Lardner of Gonzaga signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, one of several dozen mostly college players to sign pro contracts on the first day of eligibility.
Lardner, a 6-foot-4 senior from Templeton, California, went 0-2 in four starts over 24⅔ innings this season with a 2.55 earned-run average and 1.013 WHIP before the spring season was shut down.
Pro scouts like his size and ability to generate ground balls. While his fastball sits at 85-87 mph, his big frame and mechanics leave hope that he can channel his strength and size into some additional velocity once he’s part of a big league organization.
He already shows good command of his changeup and offers a developing curveball to complete his repertoire. Lardner works fast, throws strikes and changes speed well.
He struck out a season-high 10 over 7⅔ innings against South Alabama on Feb. 28, allowing one earned run on seven hits and two walks in a 2-0 loss.
Over his four-year career at Gonzaga, Lardner went 16-11 with a 3.75 ERA in 46 appearances with 39 starts, covering 249⅔ innings.
Lardner earned all-West Coast Conference honorable mention his junior season after going 6-4 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 starts, with 69 strikeouts and 15 walks over 74⅔ innings.
He was second-team all-West Coast Conference his sophomore campaign (7-4, 2.95 in 100⅔ innings) and was named to the WCC all-tournament team after helping Gonzaga to a 17-2 rout of Pepperdine in the WCC title game, pitching 7⅔ innings and allowing just two runs on six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.
Lardner struck out eight in his college debut against Duke in 2017.
At Templeton High School, he struck out 282 over 272⅔ innings and was named a MaxPreps first-team all-American, MaxPreps first-team all-state and Under Armour preseason All-American.
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