Tampa Bay Rays Select Two HBCU Baseball Players to Round Out MLB 2021 Draft

Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft recently wrapped up with 612 players ready to take their games to the next level with opportunities in professional baseball. HBCU baseball produced two flame throwing right handed pitchers selected in this year’s draft. 

The Tampa Bay Rays selected North Carolina Central University’s Austin Vernon and Texas Southern University’s Kamron Fields. 

For the first-time in Historically Black College and University baseball draft history, one MLB team has drafted two HBCU players in the top 20 rounds.

The Rays are building with an eye towards more World Series trips with draft picks like the two HBCU hardest-throwing righties. Vernon and Fields topped out at 98 and 97, respectively. 


Austin Vernon Round 10 Draft#:311

Position: RHP School: North Carolina Central


Tampa Bay Rays 



Kamron Fields Round 20 Draft#:611

Position: RHP School: Texas Southern


Tampa Bay Rays 



Austin Vernon North Carolina Central pitching timeline: 

During the 2021 season, Vernon produced a 2.55 earned run average as a starter, with 4 wins throwing 70.2 innings striking out 109 batters and limited opponents to a .163 batting average this past season. 

2020: Did not appear due to injury.

2019: Made 22 appearances with seven starts, won three games, including four saves over 44 innings pitched. Completed the season with 57 strikeouts. Has the second-highest strikeouts per nine-innings in a single season at NCCU at 11.66. Started the 2019 season with 10 strikeouts and one walk allowed in five innings pitched over three appearances. Recorded seven strikeouts over three innings pitched. 

2018: In 19 appearances with two starts, pitched 20.0 innings. Struck out 16 batters and collected a win. Made 14 appearances without allowing an earned run and eight without allowing a hit. 

He is the younger brother of former NCCU pitcher Andrew Vernon, drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016. 

Kamron Fields Texas Southern pitching timeline: 

Transferred to Texas Southern from the University of Texas in 2021 after the pandemic shortened the 2020 season. In 13 appearances, 11 games as the starting pitcher, Fields had a 5.03 earned run average in 68.0 innings pitched and struck out 79 batters with one save in relief during the season.  

2020: (University of Texas) Made four relief appearances during the shortened season, compiling a 5.40 ERA in five innings pitched, struck out five batters and walked two in five innings. Tossed a scoreless inning against ranked Cal State Fullerton in the final appearance of the season.

2019: Two-way utility player, as a right-handed pitcher and an outfielder. In 20 relief appearances out of the bullpen, played in 11 games offensively, and started four game on the mound, finished with a 4.26 earned run average in 25.1 innings pitched, and struck out 36 batters. Pitched a save against nationally ranked Texas Tech on March 15, 2019, pitched three hitless innings and struck out five to record the save. First save of career came against ranked LSU on March 1, first appearance on the mound that season was at LSU on Feb. 15.

2018: Made his first career appearance on the mound on March 11 against Stanford, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches. Made his first career start in center field on March 3 versus Northwestern. 


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