Ray Black was drafted by the Giants in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB Draft. His career then took a long pause. Black didn't start his minor league career until 2014, three years after turning pro.
"Sittin' in Arizona is tough, especially the first two years of pro ball," Black said Saturday on MLB Radio Network. "I think Joe Panik was a guy I was drafted with and he made it to the big leagues before I was playing in A-ball."
Panik made his MLB debut on June 21, 2014 and played 73 games for the Giants that season, batting .305 and won a World Series ring. At that time, Black was in the second month of his minor league career, pitching in Low-A for the Augusta GreenJackets. With his 100 mph fastball, Black struck out 64 batters in 31.1 innings for the GreenJackets. And then the command issues and injuries piled up.
"I always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I kept faith in it," Black said. "I truly believe that there was no way I was given the ability to throw one hundred miles per hour and fizzle out in A-Ball, fizzle out in Double-A. I always thought there's gotta be a reason I'm going through this. There has to be more."
Black made his big league debut this year for the Giants on June 7. At the time of his debut, he was 28 years old and seven years removed from getting drafted.
"Looking back, to be honest, I don't know if I'd want to do it all over again," Black said with a laugh. "Day to day, it was like, ok this is the task at hand. I'm going to get healthy. I'm gonna come back and I'm gonna do it again and it seemed like every milestone I hit, I had a setback.
"I committed to the University of Pittsburgh, I had Tommy John surgery. I got drafted by the Giants, I had shoulder surgery. I got put on the 40-man roster, I had elbow surgery. It was just like one step forward, two steps back. But my career was still progressing at least throughout that whole time."
The long road to San Francisco gave Black a bumpy start in the bigs. As he lit up the radar gun, the Cardinals lit him up for three earned in 1/3 of an inning, walking two and giving up a three-run shot to Matt Carpenter. His next time out two days later, Black showed his dominant repertoire with a perfect inning against the Cubs, including two strikeouts.