He was recruited by perennial baseball powers Stanford and Georgia Tech to play baseball. Yet instead of playing at a top 25 school with a scholarship, Salsgiver is playing right field for the Crimson this spring.
“Both Stanford and Georgia Tech told me that I would probably have to redshirt and sit for a year,” Salsgiver says. “I wanted to play right away, and I came to visit Harvard last year, and I really liked the school and the program. Academics have always been very important to me as well, and getting a degree at Harvard is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Not only did Salsgiver give up the chance for a scholarship, he also put off the opportunity to play professional baseball. Salsgiver received letters from each of the 30 major league teams, and scouts from teams such as the New York Yankees ate dinner in his home with his family last year.
Salsgiver was virtually assured by the director of scouting for Major League Baseball that he would be taken in the first 10 rounds of the 50-round Major League Baseball Entry Draft, and could expect a signing bonus of at least six figures.
For Salsgiver, though, college at Harvard was too enticing an opportunity to pass up.
“I really didn’t want to miss out on that part of my life,” Salsgiver says. “I know I have to improve a lot still, but I hope someday I can play professional baseball, and that opportunity will still be there in four years. But getting a degree was very important to me.”
Salsgiver holds 15 records at Davison, including a .527 career average and a .597 average his junior year. He is the only first-team high school All-American on the Crimson.
The 6’, 185-lb outfielder has had no problems adapting his game to the college level.
Salsgiver is an all-around player in every sense of the word—what major league scouts call the five-tool prospect.
First, he can hit for average as well as power as evidenced by his .343 average, 23 RBI and three home runs in his first Harvard season. He can run, leading the Crimson in stolen bases with 12 in 14 attempts.
Finally, Salsgiver has shown defensive range and a strong arm, as evidenced by his outfield-leading nine assists on the season.
“Lance has been a tremendous addition defensively in right field,” senior catcher Brian Lentz says. “He has a great arm and has thrown people out on the bases in big situations.”
Salsgiver has seamlessly made the switch from high school shortstop to college outfielder this season.
“I’ve been a middle infielder my whole life,” Salsgiver says. “But a lot of the pro scouts I talked to told me that I projected as an outfielder at the next level, because they said I’ve got good speed and a strong arm. I really have loved being an outfielder this year though, just running around out there and trying to throw guys out. I have no plans to move back to infield, but I’ll play wherever [Harvard] coach [Joe] Walsh wants me to play.”
Salsgiver was also a pitcher in high school—and a dominating one at that. In his junior season, he went 13-0 for Davison with 122 strikeouts, and was named All-State as a pitcher as well as a hitter. With the recent loss of ace Trey Hendricks leaving Harvard one Ivy starter short, Salsgiver might be needed on the hill as well as at the plate this weekend.