CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte 49er third baseman Aaron Bray (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) has had a great last month. In late May, at the Atlantic 10 Championships in Dayton, Ohio, needing just one hit to tie the all-time career hits record at Charlotte, he ended up with four hits to help the Niners stave off elimination against Fordham. Three weeks later, he is drafted by the Houston Astros in the 27th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
"It's like it's not even real yet," said Bray. "I was watching the draft online and was about to shut it off. I saw another player that I know get picked then I looked away. The next thing I know, I see my name on there. I didn't even notice who picked me at first."
"I think it's outstanding for Bray to get to go and play pro ball," said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs. "I think it's a testament to our program that we are having these guys, a lot of them local and undrafted out of high school, developing into pro players because of their hard work while at Charlotte."
Bray was taken by Houston with pick 821, a surprise to him and his family, since he had no contact with Houston during his senior season at Charlotte.
"Houston was the last team to ask me to fill out a questionnaire. Another team told me they were picking me at the end of day two, but this was a surprise."
In addition to being Charlotte's all-time career hits leader, with 293, he is also only the second player in Charlotte baseball history with over 200 hits and 200 runs. Bray finished with 212 runs, just four behind Kevin Ayers, the only other player on the 200/200 list. Bray is a three-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and was a member of the 2008 All-Raleigh, N.C. Regional team after hitting a pair of homers at that regional. He was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year in 2006, and a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American that season.
As soon as he was selected, Bray said his cell phone starting ringing from calls and buzzing from receiving text messages.
"When I was talking with one person, a couple of others would try and beep in, and as soon as I would hang up, I would have several voice mails chime in and more texts would come in. It was wild."
After calling his parents (his mother Debbie is celebrating her birthday this Thursday), Bray talked with Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs, then current and former teammates. Finally, he got the call from the Astros scout. He was told that they will visit with him before the end of the week.
Bray will have a week to pack up and head to Florida for a week of workouts before the short season teams begin play shortly thereafter. He could potentially be assigned to either Tri-City (beginning June 19) or Greeneville, Tenn. (beginning June 23). He could play second, third or in the outfield.
Bray is five classes short of a degree in history at Charlotte. He will return in the fall to complete his requirements for a December graduation.
The Astros have indicated to Bray that he will begin his pro career with the Greeneville (Tenn.) Astros of the Appalachian League.
Those Astros play in a beautiful ballpark on the campus of Tusculum College, just over the border in Tennessee.
Charlotte has now had 10 players picked in the last four MLB Amateur Drafts. Four other players played professional baseball after their career at Charlotte since 2006.
Notes: Draft Selections in Last Four Seasons 2006: Erik Walker (20th Rnd. Tampa Bay) 2007: Adam Mills (6th Rnd. Boston) Kris Rochelle (22nd Rnd. Detroit) Spencer Steedley (25th Rnd. Minnesota) 2008: Zach Rosenbaum (19th Rnd. NY Mets) Shayne Moody (24th Rnd. Atlanta) Brad McElroy (25th Rnd. Toronto) Chris Taylor (45th Rnd. St. Louis) 2009: Rob Lyerly (6th Rnd. NY Yankees) Aaron Bray (27th Rnd. Houston)