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Chris Mason signs with Tampa Bay Devil Rays; picks up first pro victory Thursday night
Courtesy: UNCG Sports Information

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Former UNC Greensboro right-handed pitcher Chris Mason signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last week and has been assigned to the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Ray’s New York-Penn League Class A Short-Season affiliate in Wappingers Falls, NY.

Mason picked up his first professional victory Thursday night in a 3-2 win over the host Aberdeen (MD) Ironbirds. He threw two scoreless innings of relief in his professional debut. He struck out four, walked none and allowed two hits as the Renegades improved to 3-0 on the season.

Mason entered in the seventh inning and proceeded to strike out three of the first four batters he faced to earn the win.

"It was very exciting," said Mason. "I got a few good pitches. They swung at a couple of bad pitches. That's what I wanted them to do."

He is wearing uniform number 10, a change from his customary No. 9 he donned for three seasons at UNCG. The Renegades are managed by Dave Howard, who enters his fifth season with the club, and pitching coach Dick Bosman returns to the position he held at Hudson Valley in 2001 after spending the last three years with the organization's Double A team in Montgomery, AL.

Hudson Valley should have one of the top pitching staffs in the NY-Penn League this season. Tampa Bay sent its first two draft picks, right-hander Wade Townsend and Mason to Hudson Valley, along with righties Greg Reinhard (sixth round) and Derek Feldkamp (ninth). Meanwhile, right-hander Wade Davis and lefty Jacob McGee were third and fifth round selections in 2004.

Mason was selected 56th overall in the second round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 7. He was one of 10 right-handers taken by Tampa Bay in the draft’s first day. Overall, the Rays’ chose 31 pitchers (18 right-handers) among their 50 picks.

The Cherryville, NC native was named the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year by the SoCon Sports Media Association and was also a first team selection by the league’s head coaches in 2005.

Mason completed his junior season at UNCG with a 6-7 record and a league-leading 2.80 earned run average. Mason set new single-season school records in strikeouts (135), complete games (8) and innings pitched (118.2). He was named SoCon Pitcher of the Week four times during the regular season and was named as one of Louisville Slugger’s National Players of the Week after he fanned a school-record 16 batters against East Tennessee State on March 25.

A solid two-way player, Mason was second on the team with a .324 batting average and paced the club with seven home runs, a .498 slugging percentage and 15 stolen bases.

Hudson Valley’s home opener is scheduled for tonight against the Williamsport (PA) Crosscutters at Dutchess Stadium. First pitch is at 7:11 pm.

The Poughkeepsie Journal contributed to this story.
I hope he can do well in the big league!
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