SOMERS, N.Y. — When New York Mets scout John Updike called on June 14 on draft day, 2015 Kennedy Catholic graduate Gavin Garay knew it was his time.
“I was just at home and had a feeling it was going to happen but you are never sure about something like that,” Garay said. “When it happens, it’s an exciting moment.”
The St. Petersburg College graduate was selected in Round 26 from the two-year junior college in which he studied sport management. He attended St. John’s University his freshman year.
Garay is currently playing with the Kingsport Mets, New York’s Rookie Ball affiliate of Kingsport, Tenn. He is from nearby Lagrangeville in Dutchess County and grew up a Yankees fan.
“Growing up I always wanted to be a professional baseball player just watching Derek Jeter on the Yankees,” Garay said. “I had the thought since the age of two. Being outside with my brother, dad and mom I was always playing baseball. Being drafted by a New York team is unbelievable, how I get to represent New York is an amazing feeling.”
The right-handed first baseman can also play third, as he has been playing for a few weeks now in the Appalachian League. He impressed potential teams by hitting .357 with five home runs in 48 games played last spring at St. Petersburg.
While at Kennedy Catholic, the rising star was mentored by head coach Bob Fletcher, who saw the potential when he coached Garay for several AAU summer league seasons with the Taconic Rangers.
“Gavin is a very hardworking young man,” Fletcher said. “He is big and strong with bat speed and power. We always knew he was going to play some sort of next level. He did it all for us, played shortstop, third base and first base. He was one of the best players in the school who has ever played here.”
Garay planned on attending the University of North Florida this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree, but the drafting steered his life into the minor leagues.
Now the 20-year-old is living the professional life, playing a game nearly every day and staying in a hotel each night alongside a teammate.
His daily routine following breakfast is to simply hit the field at around 1 p.m. for practice while games usually begin in the evening the same day.
Garay was sent to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., for three days right after he was drafted. He was swiftly shipped up to Kingsport and has been there since.
Given a short break following graduation, the rookie plans to ride out this season and land into A level baseball by next year.
“My last game at St. Petersburg College was April 27,” Garay said. “I’m just trying to get back into the groove of playing all the time.”