* Editor’s note: This is the first in a series checking in with some of the Davis baseball personalities.
HELENA, Mont. — Mike Turay was trying to concentrate. He was in a summer school class at the University of Nevada, but understandably, his attention was divided.
The Major League Baseball draft was going on that June day and the Milwaukee Brewers had taken some interest in the 2008 Davis High graduate.
Turay, who spent his last collegiate season at Stanislaus State after three seasons playing in Reno, was hopeful as he quietly watched the MLB selection process on his laptop … probably hearing every other word from his professor.
“When I saw my name pop up, I was pretty much in shock,” Turay told The Enterprise after he went in the 24th round to Milwaukee. “I couldn’t really say anything because I was in class, so I just ran outside and called my dad.
“It was definitely a cool moment.”
And that cool moment has become an exciting summer as Turay enters his third month with the Pioneer League Helena squad.
He’s been everything Brewers scout Justin McCray (a Davis resident) hoped he would be, hitting .288 in 20 games played. He hammered his first professional homer on July 6, drove in the winning runs in a couple of games and has been solid behind the plate.
Turay thinks he’s settling in just fine.
“I can’t say that I was surprised (by anything),” says the veteran of four college baseball seasons. “It was just a new experience. It was kind of like transferring schools last year — going into a new environment, not knowing what to expect.
“But baseball will always be baseball, so there weren’t that many surprises.”
One thing that has been an interesting change for the right-handed hitter has been playing with teammates from other countries:
“It was a little bit of a culture shock, I’ve never played with foreign guys, so it took some getting used to. But they are all great guys.”
Turay, who hit .432 his senior season at DHS and led the Blue Devils four games deep into the Sac-Joaquin North Section playoffs in 2008, will be in Montana through at least Sept. 6 (playoffs pending). At that point, the 22-year-old hopes to get an instructional league assignment. If not, he says baseball is over until spring training of 2013.
“Instructional league is an invite-only assignment. It is more one-on-one training with all of our coordinators,” Turay says. “It last for about three weeks, so I really hope that I get invited.”
Turay has been loving his new world.
“I’m living in Helena with a host family,” Turay says. “It works out well because our host family is very helpful with transportation and making us food.
“And I love Montana. It’s an awesome state, a lot of really cool outdoors things to do like fishing and hiking. We really don’t have that many off days, but when we do we usually float the Missouri River or hike Mt. Helena. (The city) is definitely a small town, but it is a cool place to play ball.”
Turay’s parents Colleen and Tom just finished an extended stay watching their son play — “it was awesome to see them!” — and his girlfriend came in from Denver for a visit.
“It has been nice to see the people that are very important in my life,” the ex-Devil adds.
But for now, the focus is baseball and Turay is doing all he can to help his rookie-league Brewers make the postseason.
The first half, during which Turay hit over .300, saw Helena finish last in the North Division. The Brewers’ second half record is 3-5 and manager Jeff Isom thinks his squad can make a move.
If Turay keeps taking steps forward, he might just make the difference in Helena’s pursuit of the playoffs.
Notes: “(Being drafted) was just a very cool feeling, a dream come true,” Turay recalls. “I was definitely surprised I went the 24th round … I kind of figured that I would go a lot later. I’m very thankful to Justin McCray for taking time to come out and watch me play. I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity without him.” … Turay, who wore No. 7 at DHS, Reno and Stanislaus, is wearing No. 15 in Montana. … After signing his deal with the Brewers before family and friends in a ceremony at DHS earlier in the week, Turay debuted with Helena on June 20 with a 1-for-3 outing, scoring twice. On July 3, he had his first three-hit game.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.