This week took some turns that Andrew Gist didn't expect, but at least he was at the beach when they happened.
Gist, a Forsyth Central alum, was in South Carolina on a family trip during the MLB Draft. He expected to get picked, but he was anticipating it happening on Wednesday, between the 11th and 40th rounds. On Tuesday, though, around the seventh round, teams started calling Gist to tell him that they might pick him that day. Gist headed back up to his family's condo to follow the draft.
In the ninth round, he was off the board. The Tampa Bay Rays picked Gist with the 259th overall pick, making him the first Forsyth County product to go in this year's draft. He's the first Forsyth Central alum to be picked since catcher Michael Branigan went to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 22nd round in 2014.
"If you told me last year that I was going to get drafted, I would have thought you were crazy," Gist said.
Gist, a 5-foot-10 left-handed pitcher, started his career at Walters State Community College before transferring to the University of Georgia. His first year with the Bulldogs was pedestrian, with a 5.18 ERA, but in 2017, he added a few ticks to his fastball, tightened up his curve and earned a spot as a weekend starter. Gist had only filled out one team questionnaire heading into 2017, but after he had 79 strikeouts and a 3.80 ERA in 73 1/3 innings, he had what he estimated to be "10 to 12" teams interested in drafting him.
Part of the reason that Gist went on the second day of the draft was his status as a graduating senior, who teams can typically sign to smaller signing bonuses than younger players. By picking those players in the first 10 rounds, when each pick is assigned a slotted signing bonus, teams can save money to woo other picks.
Gist said he expects to sign a bonus less than the $146,500 his pick was assigned. That isn't ideal for Gist, but it doesn't outweigh his desire to play professional baseball. He's set to head down to Florida for a physical later this week, and then will begin his career with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the short-season New York-Penn League.
"I get to further my career of playing baseball," Gist said. "That was my ultimate goal."