Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Perry is the Tigers first round pick out of the University of Arizona. Working as a reliever for the Wildcats this spring, Perry has shown electric stuff and been a dominating force at the back end of games. In 29 games (only 6 starts), Perry has amassed 70 1/3 innings while walking only 17 hitters with 69 strikeouts. Perry is still playing with Arizona in the NCAA Super Regionals in Florida. Leading into his junior season, Perry destroyed the Cape Cod League in 2007. Playing for Orleans, Ryan worked solely out of the bullpen, and notched 30 strikeouts in just 21 2/3 innings. He flashed elite stuff on the hill and his 4.15 ERA doesn't tell the whole story of his performance.
As a sophomore at Arizona, Perry missed much of the season due to a motorcycle accident; limiting him to just fourteen games and seven starts. Though he put up just a 6.35 ERA, he did strike out 35 hitters in 34 innings. He started to come alive in the NCAA tournament, striking out three in two scoreless frames against Wichita State in the regional final. Ryan had a rough freshman campaign, yielding a ton of hits and generally struggling with the transition to college ball. He ended the year with a 3-1 record and 7.34 ERA in 17 games. Perry was a three-time letter winner at Marana High School in Arizona, while also earning two varsity letters on the golf course.
Perry has huge arm strength. That's where the report starts, and that is where the focus remains. Ryan sat at 93-95 during his junior year, both in a starting and relief role. His fastball is a bit flat, but his lightning quick arm gets it on hitters quickly enough that he can still get it past hitters. When moved to the bullpen after struggling as a starter, Perry touched 98, and even hit 100 mph in a relief appearance at the Ann Arbor Regional.
Backing up his fastball, Perry works an 86-88 mph slider that has devastating break and excellent velocity. His slider was rated the best on the Cape last summer, and has the potential to be a true put-away pitch. Ryan's change-up has shown promise in the past, but he hasn't worked with it enough to truly develop it as a reliable third offering. Last fall, Perry was also working on a two-seam fastball that worked in the 93-94 range with good sink, but this spring the pitch was inconsistent and it will need additional work as a pro.
Perry's body has excellent projection, and he has enough of an arsenal to be tried in a professional rotation. Once signed and further evaluated, don't be shocked if the Tigers try Perry as a starter, if for nothing else than an opportunity to further refine his off-speed pitches. There are some minor questions about Perry's dedication but those have begun to be cleared up in recent months. He has the bulldog mentality and willingness to come inside that you want in both your starters and late-inning relievers. In the long run, I think Perry is more likely to turn into a dominating closer, but there is some potential to become a solid starter.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG CLG
In his motorcycle accident last year, Perry broke his non-throwing arm and a sore back. Neither injury has shown any ill effects since getting back on the hill. His mechanics are solid and he works down the mound well. Arm trouble has not been a problem for him so far, but there are always questions about players who throw this hard.
Unlike past years, Perry shouldn't be a terribly tough sign for the Tigers. I imagine they'll begin heavy discussions with him soon after his season is completed, and he could be in the fold sometime during the beginning of July. Given his advanced experience and dominating fastball, Ryan should start his career in Oneonta, but could be pushed a little further depending on roster space at that time.
Ryan's timetable to Detroit will depend on the role in which they use him right away. If they intend to keep him as a late-inning reliever, Perry could make an appearance in Detroit as early as this fall. As a starter, Ryan will likely take a bit longer, likely not seeing significant time in Detroit until sometime in 2010.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.