LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) — After spending spring training with the Astros organization, Bassett High School product Nathan Perry was released in late March.
He returned to Virginia to determine his next move when, a week later, the catcher was signed to a minor league contract by the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’ve definitely seen a lot of young talent here with Tampa Bay, a lot of our young prospects that I’m playing with right now,” he said of the experience so far. “It’s amazing how developed they are already.”
Perry has spent this season in Low-A with Charleston, playing 20 games so far this year. He says the catching position has evolved with the advancement of analysis during his playing career.
“I think that’s changed, especially like parsing and framing height and just trying to steal certain heights,” Perry said. “Different setups so right now with the Rays I’m working on a one-knee setup which is new for me. It’s been an adjustment phase for me but it’s getting better every day and I am excited to keep growing.
Spending the past two seasons in the Carolina League has meant frequent trips back to the Commonwealth, getting the chance to play pro in front of friends and family.
“It’s been such a blessing over the years to be able to play on the East Coast,” he said. “Getting the chance to play here in Lynchburg, Salem, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.”
Life for miners is not always easy, however.
Drafted to Bassett in 2017, Perry says he was forced to adapt quickly to a highly competitive environment.
“I’ll just give you a word, it’s a grind,” he explained. “It taught me a lot, especially getting drafted out of high school, coming in and being dumped as an adult at 17. It taught me a lot of things and I feel like I’ve really matured as a man being in professional ball.
Now 23 in his fifth pro season, Perry can offer his own advice to his starting teammates as he pursues his own baseball journey.
“I kind of feel like a big brother, a mentor to some of these guys,” he said. “I mean, they’re in the exact same place as me, and I feel like just being there for guys like that has been really cool.”
Perry and the RiverDogs play in Lynchburg against the Hillcats through Sunday.
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