After a successful season as a weekend starter, junior righthander Bobby Ay was selected in the ninth round of the MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, June 4.
“It was incredible,” Ay said. “Honestly, my mind blacked out a little bit and I can’t really remember much. It happened so fast. I was just so happy and just so relieved to go. It was a fun day.”
Ay was the 272nd overall pick. He finished his fourth year as the Mustangs’ best starter, with a 9-1 record and a 3.27 ERA through 15 games.
While Ay was hoping to get picked on Tuesday, he tried to keep himself distracted by playing golf with his friends.
“I did my best to try to get my mind off of it, but it was pretty hard.” Ay said. “And then as the day grew on, I was starting to get a little bummed out because I definitely wanted to go [Tuesday].”
As the second day of the MLB draft was winding down, Ay suddenly got a call from his agent, who said he was about to be picked by Arizona.
“One minute and I was like, okay, I’m probably going to go tomorrow.” Ay said. “And then the next minute, I saw my name on the TV and they’re talking about me.”
Early in his Cal Poly career, Ay was not sure if he would be able to play professionally. As a true freshman in 2016, Ay pitched in seven games for a 1-1 record and a 5.40 ERA.
“I struggled a little bit in my first couple of years, so I was like, I gotta either figure it out or figure out a new career path,” Ay said.
Ay had a 1-6 record his sophomore season. His prospects worsened more when a shoulder injury cut his junior season to just one game. However, in his final year as a Mustang, he put together a career-best season. Ay’s dream of playing in the MLB was becoming more possible.
“As this season went on, the possibility of it becoming a reality really started to set in and I was like, I might be able to do this,” Ay said. “Once I saw my name up on the TV, it was like, I did it.”
In his most recent game, Ay pitched seven scoreless innings on the way to a 3-0 shutout over the eventual Big West Champion, UC Santa Barbara, on May 23. He had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings, struck out eight Gauchos and walk three. Ay called head coach Larry Lee the “most vital” person in his baseball career.
“[Lee] was really, really tough on me for the first three years and even into my fourth year because he wanted me to succeed,” Ay said. “He could see the talent and potential that I had, even when I couldn’t at times.”
Ay professional career begins on June 16, when he flies to the Diamondback’s training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“As soon as I get there, I gotta keep and earn my spot … so I’ll be looking forward to the hard work I’m about to put in, and finally starting to get paid for it,” Ay said. “So that’ll be fun, a nice change of pace. I can’t wait to get going.”