Bob Jones High School, at long last, was about to see the best of Dylan Ray. Its baseball coach, Jared Smith, treated the right-handed pitcher with ease as a freshman, before arm soreness plagued his sophomore season and and a torn ACL in football limited his junior season.
With nothing holding him back as a senior, he was off to a strong start. He allowed just one hit in his final nine innings of high school baseball. The COVID-19 pandemic kept Ray and Bob Jones from using that momentum toward a potential state championship, but Ray will get to use it for his future, be that at the University of Alabama or in the minor leagues. Ray signed with UA in November.
Dylan Ray allowed just one hit in his final nine innings of high school baseball. It’s not the send-off he and Bob Jones High School had in mind, but on a personal level, it’s enough to generate excitement for Ray’s future, wherever that may be.
Ray is one of ten currently signed to the University of Alabama’s 2020 baseball recruiting class, but he is also one of the most highly rated in that class, giving him a chance to get drafted even in an shortened 2020 MLB Draft. The short stint that was his senior season showed why the right-handed pitcher is a notable prospect.
“He can throw his breaking ball for a strike at any count,” Bob Jones High School pitching coach Hunter Smothers said. “You see a lot of hard-throwing guys, they’re just pumping fastballs, but he can throw the breaking ball on first pitch, he can throw it 3-1 or 3-2, it doesn’t matter. That definitely makes him more effective.”
Ray did it all after ultimately playing football after originally deciding to skip his senior season. Ray focused on baseball over the summer just to return to the football team two games into its season; he left the season with minor shoulder pain, but Smith said it was the healthiest they have had Ray at the beginning of a season.
The results were the proof.
Ray’s penultimate high school outing was a five-inning no-hitter against Benedictine (Georgia), before four innings of scoreless, one-hit pitching against Hartselle in what was his final outing. The outing against Benedictine was in a Perfect Game tournament against Carter Holton, a Vanderbilt commit.
“His fastball, last year fluctuated a little in terms of velo(city), but this year he was sitting 90-92, topping out at 94 pretty much every outing,” Smothers said. “The fastball velo was up, he was throwing three pitches for strikes: fastball, curveball, changeup.”
As Ray went, he garnered more attention from scouts than he already had. He was already rated as a top 300 high school player in the class of 2020, and the strong pitching start to his senior season (and highly rated teammates, including fellow UA signee Caden Rose) made Bob Jones a regular stop for scouts.
“It was cool. You’d have 15, 20 scouts whenever he was pitching,” Smith said. “He’s went through numerous interviews at his house where pro scouts come out and learn a lot more than, ‘Can you play baseball?’ If they’re going to spend millions of dollars on you, they’re going to know how are your parents, how are you personality-wise, what kind of teammate you are.”
With the 2020 MLB Draft being both delayed and cut in rounds, reportedly to as few as five, it’s nearly impossible to project how Ray will be drafted, if at all. Smith is among many college coaches making the assumption that college players will be taken more heavily than normal in 2020, given the amount of data that is available on college players over high school players. That may keep Ray from getting drafted, thus sending him to UA.
In any event, be it the SEC or the minor leagues, Smith believes the moment will not be too big for Ray in the next step of his career.
“I thought he handled it really well,” Smith said. “I thought he pitched better with the scouts there.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson