Jay Stout is “living the dream,” according to his father, Jay Sr.
Jay Jr. doesn’t disagree, waking up each morning knowing he will get paid to play baseball that evening.
Stout, a 2011 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, plays for the Bakersfield Train Robbers, a member of the Pecos League.
The Pecos League includes two six-team divisions with clubs spread throughout the Southwest United States.
After starring at Oak Harbor High School, Stout went on to play baseball for Skagit Valley College and AIB College of Business (Des Moines, Iowa).
As a junior at AIB, Stout led the team in hitting (.339) and earned first-team All-Midwest Collegiate Conference honors and was awarded a Gold Glove for his defensive work.
He followed that with a strong senior season, adding NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors to his trophy case.
Since graduating in 2015, Stout has worked to keep his playing days alive, attending several tryouts.
“I was just trying to get my name out there,” he said.
On his third try, he found a spot on a professional team.
That came from a solid effort at the Pecos Spring League, a three-week showcase in March in Houston. The spring league enables Pecos League teams to scout players to stock their clubs for the regular season. After a recommendation from a college buddy, Stout caught the eye of the Train Robbers’ coaching staff and was selected for their roster.
Stout said the semi-professional independent Pecos League is considered on par with Major League Baseball’s short-season A leagues.
Now, Stout gets paid to play.
“We want to be seen,” Stout said, noting the goal for most Pecos League players is to be picked up by an MLB organization.
Bakersfield plays in Sam Lynn Ballpark, the former home of a Seattle Mariners’ minor league team, and draws several hundred fans to each game.
Stout, the starting right fielder, is on a one-year contract and will find out soon if the team wants to sign him up for next year.
Based on the success he has had this season, he has a good shot of being invited back. Through Sunday and 66 games of the 75-game regular season, Stout, who throws and bats left-handed, is third among Bakersfield hitters with a .344 average (62-for-180). He leads the club in runs (58), triples (3), walks (37) and stolen bases (18). Stout is second in home runs (6) and runs batted in (46). The team leader in home runs (7) and RBI (48) has had 37 more at bats than Stout.
Stout’s standout play helped him get selected for the league’s mid-season all-star game.
Reflecting on his season, Stout said, “I can’t complain. I try to stay consistent; my success at the plate helps the team.”
The Train Robbers own a 34-22 record and are in second place, eight and a half games behind the Tucson Saguaros. The top three teams from each division qualify for the playoffs, which begin shortly after the regular season ends next week.
Once his playing days are over, Stout wants to pursue a career in sports marketing, his major at AIB.
But for now, those plans will have to wait. Stout is busy following his dream of giving pitchers nightmares.
(Editor’s note: The photos for this story were provided by Jennifer Johnson, the Bakersfield Train Robbers’ official photographer. You can see and purchase other shots of Stout and the Train Robbers at www.hippiechick73.com/Baseball/TrainRobbers.)