Another Perry tradition: pro ball
Sudbury’s Matt Perry is scheduled to make his professional baseball debut tomorrow night in Troy, N.Y., where the Holy Cross captain this spring will suit up for the Connecticut Tigers in their New York-Penn League matchup against the host Tri-City Valley Cats.
Selected in the 41st round by the Detroit Tigers in last week’s Major League Baseball first-year player draft, Perry signed a contract last Friday in Lakeland, Fla. On Sunday, he was assigned to the organization’s Class A franchise in Norwich, Conn.
“I had a pretty good vibe about the Tigers going into the draft,’’ said Perry, the Patriot League Player of the Year as a junior in 2009. The lefty batter hit over .400 his junior and senior seasons, and caught the eye of the Tigers scouting staff last summer during a stint with the the Cape Cod League’s Chatham Anglers.
“It was an honor to be drafted and my goal now is just to compete and work hard. I feel I became a better all-around player this past season,’’ said Perry, a multisport star at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham (class of 2006). He is the first player from Holy Cross to be drafted by a big-league baseball team since Drew Bigda in 2004.
Primarily a third baseman (he also planned to take a first baseman’s mitt to Norwich), Perry is the son and grandson of Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Famers who also got a shot at pro ball.
His father, Ron Perry Jr., starred on the diamond and the basketball court for the Crusaders and was drafted by both the Red Sox (1979) and White Sox (1980). And his grandfather, Ron Perry Sr., had led the Worcester college’s baseball and basketball teams to national championships, and signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, before the draft was instituted. He went on to serve as the athletic director at Holy Cross for more than a quarter-century.
“It’s pretty cool to keep up the family tradition,’’ said Perry, who received congratulations from the elder Perrys within 10 minutes of his selection “My grandfather was checking it out on his computer and told me I had earned the chance, and my dad was confident in the days before the draft that it was going to happen.’’
Perry impressed Tigers scout Garrett Guest during his visit to Holy Cross this spring.
“Our game against Lafayette was rained out the day he came,’’ said Perry, “so he had a chance to see me work out in the cage and take some video, and he stayed to watch me play the next day.’’
Guest said he liked the way Perry went about his preparations for the game, and how he carried himself on and off the field. “And he obviously comes from good stock.’’
Guest, who in 2004 was chosen in the 49th round by the White Sox, said he knows the challenges Perry will face as a late pick. “But when he puts the uniform on for the first time, all things are equal and the rest is up to him. He has the tools and the track record.’’
Perry, one of 26 former or current Chatham players taken in last week’s draft, has made the most of his summers. He played for the 2007 Intercity League champion Lexington Blue Sox after his freshman year at Holy Cross, and had a breakthrough year adapting to the wood bat the following summer when he hit .427 and had a 27-game hitting streak in the New York Collegiate League.
And while Perry hit just .222 in 34 games last summer for Chatham, Guest noted that averages are usually low in the Cape League, which features some of the best collegiate pitchers in the country who have the advantage over hitters making the transition from aluminum to wood.
“I learned a lot on the Cape,’’ said Perry, whose father is also a member of the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. “What I did there on a day-to-day basis was invaluable.’’
Perry, who helped lead the Crusaders to the Patriot League title game this spring, set six single-season records this year, and had a career .365 batting average. He played four games for the Blue Sox to stay sharp prior to the draft.
“Matt’s a professional hitter who has always played up to the level of his competition,’’ said Holy Cross head coach Greg DiCenzo, “and now he’s getting his chance to prove it again.’’
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.