On July 20th, Isaac Ayon announced that he will be returning for the 2024 season. After being drafted, he took the news to X (formally Twitter) to express his excitement.
“Thank you to the @Nationals Organization for taking a chance and drafting me. A childhood dream come true. However, I will not be signing and will return back to Oregon for my Senior year. GO DUCKS!!”
During the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft, the Duck’s right-hander was selected in the 20th round with the 585th overall pick. If you missed his performance that season, well there’s no real surprise to that, as he was forced to miss it due to an undisclosed injury. Despite that, the Ducks’ coach, Mark Wasikowski, remained relatively optimistic throughout the spring, believing that Ayon would reappear sometime during the season.
“Usually, these guys with these arm injuries, they have a setback somewhere in there. So far — knock on wood — we haven’t had a setback,”
Wasikowski said on May 17, not realizing that saying “knock on wood” does not completely exempt him from being jinxed.
“He’s not going through just, like, a headache; take a couple of aspirin and he’ll be okay. Nevertheless, he’s passed the tests that he needs to pass. Hopefully, he can be available, at least for the Pac-12 tournament. And then potentially. … through the postseason run. So that’s what our intentions are, and we’ll learn more by the day, obviously.”
Wasikowski should have knocked a little harder, because Ayon never made that return, unfortunately, and sat out during Oregon’s dash towards the NCAA Super Regionals.
However, this isn’t to say that Ayon is untested. Back in 2022, Ayon went 4-4 with a 5.67 ERA and 80 strikeouts over 81 1/3 innings. While he had been Oregon’s Saturday starter, he took over the Friday role after ace Adam Maier had to sit out due to an injury. As the year progressed, he got noticeably better with each and every game, culminating in his best outing when he tossed a complete game and led the Ducks to a 4-3 win over No. 25 Arizona.
Though, don’t think Ayon was their first choice. The ace that had replaced him, Jace Stoffal, had done fantastically in replacing Ayon during his injury, but is expected to sign up with the Minnesota Twins.
We look forward to seeing how Ayon does in the 2024 season, and if he’s truly still got it.