Luis Ignacio Ayala is a professional baseball player from Mexico who plays as a pitcher. In 1997, a 19-year old Ayala made his way into the Mexican Baseball League and became a professional. From his first season, he gave the impression that Ayala would go on to bigger and better things. A wonderful season, in 1999, was followed by another major moment when the Colorado Rockies came calling and picked him up as a free agent.
In 2000, he began his Rockies career in Mexico itself, playing for the Saltillo Saraperos. He played 55 games and pitched in 65.1 innings with an ERA of 2.76 and a 5-3 record. The following year, Ayala moved to the United States to play for the Salem Avalanche in the Advanced A-League. 13 games later, he was sent back to Mexico to play for the Saraperos till the end of the season.
In 2002, Ayala moved to the Montreal Expos as a Rule 5 Draft pick but his story was quite similar. He began the season with 6 games for the Ottawa Lynx in the AAA-League before moving to Mexico and the Saraperos again. Finally, after much speculation about his entry into the majors, Ayala got a chance to play for the Montreal Expos in 2003. Ayala pitched 71 innings in his rookie year, making 65 appearances and ended with a dream start of a 10-3 record and a 2.92 ERA. In the following year, Ayala was ranked 8th in the National League with his 81 appearances while he had a 2.69 ERA along with 63 strikeouts. His 6-12 record was not so flattering however he had 62 holds, the highest for all pitchers in the National League.
In 2005, the Expos became the Washington Nationals and Ayala continued his good showing for the ball club. After 68 games in 2005, Ayala had an ERA of 2.66 with an 8-7 record. His season was cut short after he injured his elbow on the last pitch of a 2006 World Baseball Classic game that led to an injury layoff that lasted the entire 2006 season.
Ayala began 2007 on the 60-day disabled list and then went through rehabilitation in the minor leagues and came back up to the Nationals by June, 2007. Ayala made 44 appearances in 2007 at an ERA of 3.19 and with a 2-2 record. In 2008, Ayala was having an “off-season” so to speak as he pitched in 62 games for the Nationals but had an ERA of 5.77 with a 1-8 record.
Ayala had requested for a trade in the middle of the season and the Nationals obliged by trading him out to the New York Mets in exchange for Anderson Hernandez. Ayala starred for the Mets in 19 games and had a 1-2 record with a 5.50 ERA. The outcome of the trade wasn’t as the Mets had expected and as a result, Ayala was traded out to the Florida Marlins in 2009. Playing 9 times for their AAA-League affiliate, the New Orleans Zephyrs, Ayala was again on the move, this time to the Minnesota Twins.