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Baseball - Wed, Jun. 10, 2015
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Elgin, IL (Wednesday, Jun 10th) 2015 Major League Baseball Draft - 


The 2015 Major League Baseball Draft got underway on Monday, June 8th, and for Judson University Baseball the MLB is rarely used in the same sentence. Ryan Perez has been making headlines ever since he stepped on the field for Judson University in 2013, and has made another headline with his 12th round pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2015 MLB Draft. Perez's ability to pitch from both the right and left side is impressive enough, but as the scouts would agree the 90+ mph fastball from both sides was the cherry on top. 


It has been 39 years since Judson's only draft pick was selected in the 1976 MLB Draft. Reginald Smith was a right handed pitcher selected in the 35th round as the 697 overall pick. Smith was also selected by the Cleveland Indians and played in the minor league system for many years. Perez's selection in the 12th round, 364 overall by the Indians is Judson's second overall and it puts him on a select list of ambidextrous pitchers drafted. Perez joins Greg A. Harris and Pat Venditte as the only pitchers in the modern era to be able to pitch from both sides. 


In talking with Ryan pre-draft he was hopeful to go as early as the 4th round, but knew he would probably go later near the 10th round. The team was never a big concern for Perez, but as he stated the White Sox's were his favorite team growing up. Perez got his start at Westminster Christian High School in Elgin, IL and moved across town to play at Judson University. Ryan added to the "local" Judson roster as many players have ranged from the surrounding area. Perez chose Judson as it offered not just an avenue to play ball, but appealed to him both academically and spiritually. A small private Christian school that offered "everything he needed". Coach Rich Benjamin took Ryan in even after he had tommy john surgery on his right arm after his senior year of high school. As Perez stated, "They (Judson) were able to promise me innings from the right side after my surgery." As an ambidextrous pitcher working both sides evenly is important, and Judson was able to offer the playing time from both sides. Perez has overcome a lot of adversity with tommy john surgery and strained muscles in his left arm this past season. When asked about these set backs Ryan said, "You have to think about the future...there are moments and times you have doubts, but figure out what is important now." 


Perez has now put himself in a great spot for the future and it is looking bright. There is speculation about whether Ryan will be drafted to pitch from both sides or drafted to focus on one side, when asked Perez stated "I would choose my left. It is more of a rarity in baseball." And anyone that has seen his curve ball from the left side would agree. Cleveland drafted him as a left-handed pitcher and probably sees the same thing. Later in the interview, Ryan was asked what advice he would give his younger self, he said "Keep working hard. There are days you want to be lazy, but you have to stick to the routine." Pitching from both sides requires a great routine and Perez's work ethic is never questionable. The work he has put in to get to this point has been a long road when overcoming surgery and injury; not to mention that both arms need the same amount of work when pitching.


In wrapping up he was asked what his motto has been through this whole journey, he stated "Keep the game simple. Take it one pitch at a time." Being an ambidextrous pitcher is anything from simple but Perez has found a way to make it look easy. Ryan's next pitch or step is now playing at the professional level, and we look forward to what his career has yet to bring.