Righthander Mason Black made his pro debut in 2022, racking up 136 strikeouts in 112 innings and allowing a mere 95 hits at two Class A levels.
His 2023 season was strikingly similar, this time at the upper levels.
Through 28 starts for Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento, Black recording a 3.79 ERA with 151 strikeouts and 51 walks in 118.2 innings. His .218 opponent average ranked top 20 in the minors.
“I think he started out the year really good and just continued to get stronger and stronger as the summer went on,” Giants farm director Kyle Haines said. “When you watch the delivery and the pure raw stuff, you know it’s a legitimate performance, but also with upside for major league potential.”
The Giants drafted the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Black out of Lehigh in the third round in 2021.
The 23-year-old possesses a mid-90s fastball that “has some sinking, tailing qualities to it that can induce ground balls if needed,” according to Haines.
Black also throws a plus slider the generates a high rate of swings and misses. He can use his changeup effectively against lefthanded hitters to keep them off balance.
Haines said Black is “very sociable and happy-go-lucky” when he’s not pitching, but he becomes “super focused” on days he takes the mound.
“People generally let him be and let him stay in his own space and his own zone,” Haines said. “You kind of see him enter almost a different competitive phase than otherwise.”
With the uncertainty surrounding the Giants’ rotation—only Logan Webb and Alex Cobb made more than 18 starts for San Francisco this season—Black could contend for a rotation spot next season.
“He’s done his part to put himself into a really good spot” for next year, Haines said. “I just think it’ll be a big offseason for him and it’ll be a big spring training for him.”
— Emerging pitching prospect Hayden Birdsong completed a rousing first full season with a 3.31 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 100.2 innings. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthander opened the season at Low-A San Jose and climbed to Double-A Richmond. The Giants drafted Birdsong in the sixth round in 2022 out of Eastern Illinois.