DUNEDIN, Fla— Little did Ryan Gold know that his visit to the 2016 Carolina Country Music Festival would prove to be the biggest day of his young career.
After spending three days staring at his computer screen waiting for his name to come up on the Major League Baseball draft board, Gold left believing he would be playing college ball in the fall.
“I didn’t think I was going to get drafted since it went to the third day,” said Gold, a right-handed hitting catcher. “I just thought, if I’m in the 35th round I’ll just go to college.”
The Blue Jays took the Carolina Forrest high schooler in the 27th round of the 2016 draft. After his agent called him, Gold and his family made the decision to accept the Blue Jays offer.
“It’s the greatest decision of my life,” the teenager said standing at the Blue Jays’ spring training complex in Dunedin. “I just wanted to come here and just enjoy the experience while I’m young and see what I can do.”
The 19-year-old was committed to play for Coastal Carolina in the NCAA, where his brother Jared Gold was playing, found the decision of where to go a difficult one.
“It was tough, I got calls from (Coastal Carolina) coaches, they were really supportive. They wanted me to choose what I wanted,”
Now his focus is on learning what it means to be a professional.
“It’s long days. Pretty much catching a lot of bullpens, taking batting practice. What they’re teaching us so far is just to have fun with it, but also work as hard as you can.”
Being a catcher it was a huge lure to work with some of the best coaches with the Jays this spring.
“They’re great coaches, great guys, I met them last (season in instructional camp) and they’re just opening up everything right now and teaching me a whole new way to catch,”
The 5-foot-9 catcher who played in the Gulf Coast League last year hopes to use his first Spring Training experience as a springboard for the future.
“I would love to make the Vancouver team out of extended (spring camp).” Gold said. “That’s where I want to be, and I’m working towards that.”