116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A year ago at this time, Adam Mazur would have been prepping for a Friday start against some Summit League opponent. Perhaps it would have been North Dakota State, maybe Western Illinois or Oral Roberts.
Instead he was on a bus with his Iowa Hawkeyes teammates Thursday afternoon, headed toward Lincoln, Neb., where Iowa and Nebraska will play a three-game weekend series.
He’ll still be a Friday starting pitcher, just in the more high-profile Big Ten Conference.
“Definitely been a lot of differences, a lot of rearranging, a lot of new environments,” Mazur said. “So just doing my best to kind of adapt to each new environment and do the best with each situation.”
Mazur has become Iowa’s top starting pitcher after transferring in from South Dakota State. The redshirt sophomore from the Twin Cities suburbs was the Jackrabbits’ No. 1 guy but decided to move elsewhere in order to develop better.
The right-hander got an invitation to pitch last summer in the prestigious collegiate Cape Cod League, which is where Iowa Coach Rick Heller saw him in person. A couple of hour-long Zoom meetings with Hawkeyes pitching coach Robin Lund, and Mazur became sold.
“Transferring was honestly a really late decision for me. I didn’t decide until the last day you were able to go into (the portal),” Mazur said. “To me, it just kind of came down to development. At SDSU, the pitching coach that recruited me was there the fall of my freshman year, then took a job in Ohio a couple of days before we went home for winter break. So we really went that season without a pitching coach because we really didn’t want to make a rush hire for that season and have it be a wrong fit. They wanted to find someone long term. That’s what I understood, and I agreed with.”
Mazur said because of COVID and everything, South Dakota State didn’t find a new pitching coach until January of 2021, right before last season was about to start. So he essentially went without bonafide instruction for about a year.
“It was just timing, a really tough situation,” he said. “So I felt like if I really wanted to develop ... Iowa was perfect. They have Robin, who is a really good pitching coach. But they also have endless technology, and you just don’t see that everywhere else. That was really nice.”
Mazur has seen his fastball velocity increase a couple ticks or so to the mid-90s regularly. He has touched 98 and 99 miles per hour.
He also has developed a changeup and curveball. Instead of an earned run average in the high-fives, which he had at SDSU, he goes into Friday’s start with a 4-2 record and 2.76 earned run average in 10 starts.
Mazur has given up just 36 hits in 62 innings and struck out 73. He has gone at least six innings in his four Big Ten starts, including back-to-back eight-inning beauties against Minnesota and Rutgers in which he gave up six hits and an earned run, striking out 11 in each.
“Stay focused on the day we’re on,” Mazur said. “A big part of that has been working with Robin and changing mechanics and really just working on the mound more, kind of changing just small things with delivery and motor movements that have really helped me kind of complete my arsenal. Then learning how to pitch with that arsenal also has been big for me. I think I can work pitches off of each other, and that’s a big credit to Robin.”
Mazur’s emergence has gotten him noticed by MLB scouts. This being his third college season, even though he gets a redshirt for 2020’s COVID cancellation, he’s eligible to be drafted.
Everyone has an opinion, but some have speculated he could be picked in the top 10 rounds. Mazur said he’s aware he’s got some helium that way, but insisted pro ball is not in the forefront of his thoughts.
“At this time, not at all,” he said. “I’m just really focused on going out there every time I get the ball and giving our team a chance to win. Just really trying to enjoy the season with the good guys that we have here.”
Iowa (24-13) goes into the weekend with an 8-4 Big Ten record, tied with Michigan. Rutgers, which Iowa beat last weekend in two of three games, leads the league with a 12-3 record.
Maryland is next at 9-3, followed by Illinois at 11-4. Nebraska is 17-23, 5-7.
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