Making the grade: Top student eyed by pro baseball
As finals week rapidly approaches, Mark Mosier, a fourth-year student in the College, hopes to maintain his 3.5 G.P.A. as he finishes his requirements for a concentration in economics.
Like other soon-to-be-graduates of the College, he is spending as much time as possible finishing course assignments so that he can enjoy traditional Senior Week activities, catching up with friends before they head their separate ways.
Like most of the more than 700 students who will graduate from the College this spring, Mosier should be relaxed, winding down from his four years here.
But he's not. He has one more inning to play, one more run to score.
During the first week of June, Mosier will find out if he has been selected in this year's draft by a Major League Baseball team.
Mosier, Chicago's starting second baseman, entered the final week of the 1997 regular season hoping to become the first player since 1978 to win the NCAA Division III baseball triple crown -- for home runs, runs batted in and batting average -- when the year-end statistics are announced in July. Mosier leads the NCAA Division III in home runs and runs batted in, and ranked sixth in batting. He also ranked fifth in triples per game.
With a final batting average of .495, Mosier hit 15 home runs and 57 RBIs in 28 games. He boasted a whopping 1.152 slugging percentage, which indicates the average number of bases the batter reaches per at bat. Such a percentage is phenomenal, a number so high that it's often assumed to be a typographical error. To put it in perspective, the highest slugging percentage last year was .934; only two players in NCAA Division III had an average higher than .900.
So far this year, Mosier has been scouted by numerous teams. Being selected in the draft would be a dream come true for Mosier, who has wanted to play professional baseball for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Salina, Kansas, Mosier used to dream about playing in the big leagues. In grammar school he played second and third base for his Little League teams.
"I've always hoped to play ball professionally, and I can't really remember a time when I wasn't playing ball," he said.
Mosier was recruited out of high school by men's varsity baseball coach Brian Baldea, who calls Mosier a "remarkable athlete."
"Mark has the whole package. He's one of the top students I've ever had," Baldea said.
Mosier is happy he made the choice to come to Chicago. "Coach Baldea invited me to campus, I really liked it here, and I realized that not only could I play right away but that the College would be academically challenging," Mosier said. "I definitely made the right decision."
Last season -- due in no small part to Mosier's efforts -- Chicago claimed its most successful season to that point in the program's 103-year history. With a final record of 22-12-1, the Maroons surpassed the 1904 mark of 21-8-1. This year the Maroons tied the number of wins for a final record of 22-8.
Next stop: Pros?
Last summer, Mosier was invited to play for the Twin City Stars in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, a summer league supported by Major League Baseball. In the first 10 games, Mosier had compiled a .265 bating average against mostly Division I pitching. By mid-June, Mosier had raised his average to .368 and was named First Team All-Star.
Twin City Stars manager Mike Olson was quoted in the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph as saying that Mosier reminded him of former major league player Steve Garvey.
"I learned a number of years ago that it doesn't matter where you're playing, it's what caliber of player you are that counts," said Olson. "He's at a Division III school, but he could just as easily be playing at UIC, Illinois State or Illinois. He's that good."
Mosier is good -- and his talent has been a boost for the University's whole baseball program, Baldea said.
"My number one goal has always been developing a good, strong, clean program that will help young men develop as athletes and as people," Baldea said. "The last three years have been pretty nice -- we have gained some strong regional and also some national recognition for the program. This is in large part due to the effort of Mark Mosier."
Mosier said the appreciation is mutual.
"Coach Baldea has been real supportive of my goals and the goals of all the team members," said Mosier. "He has gone out of his way to put me in touch with scouts from various teams. At the same time he really supports the work that students do for class, like making sure people don't worry too much if a science lab conflicts with a practice. He knows that we have work to do off the field."
As Mosier moves towards the crucial draft lottery, he is full of emotion, excitement and optimism.
He has been invited to some pre-draft mini-camps in the Midwest region designed to give scouts a quick look at what prospects can really do.
"Mostly this means I hit the ball, field the ball and they time my running speed," Mosier said.
While dealing with the big leagues may seem daunting, Mosier feels that his experience last summer in the CICL has given him the ability to deal with scouts and agents.
"Last summer, I received a lot of exposure to scouts and the selection process. It's going to be a very busy 10th week for me, but I'm ready."
-- Jeff Makos