Ryan Perry, a 6'4'', 215 lb former Tigers' 1st Round pick, was acquired by the Washington Nationals in a December 2011 trade that sent former Montreal Expos' draft pick and Nats' reliever Collin Balester to Detroit. At the time, Perry, who'll turn 26 in February, had worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 149 major league games, over which the one-time University of Arizona right-hander was (5-6) with a 4.07 ERA, 82 walks (4.57 BB/9) and 129 Ks (7.20 K/9) in 161.1 IP. Perry made seven appearances as a reliever in the majors with the Nationals in 2012, and 11 at Triple-A Syracuse before he was moved down to Double-A Harrisburg and put back into the starting rotation.
MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr quoted Nats' Director of Player Development Doug Harris explaining at the time that the Nationals, "'... like his size... We like his athleticism. He has an ease to his delivery. We feel like, with Ryan, we have a chance to take a step back in order to take two steps forward.'" Harris said the right-hander had, "'... a power breaking ball. He has a changeup and curveball that as a reliever he didn't get to utilize significantly.'" If they could get him to repeat his delivery, Harris said, the Nationals believed Perry could, "... continue to hone his command and continue to develop his repertoire with all three pitches."
Perry told the Washington Post's James Wagner this past July that he had first brought up the idea of starting again in a conversation with Nats' front office personnel. "'Down here, I need to get my pitch count up, work on my pitches and really feel my mechanics," Perry said, which is something he couldn't do while working as a reliever. "'I know I have great stuff,'" Perry told the WaPost writer, "'I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of getting out there.'" In 13 starts for the Nationals' Double-A affiliate, Perry had a 2.84 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 22 walks (2.71 BB/9) and 46 Ks (5.67 K/9) in 73.0 IP.
The next stop for the 25-year-old pitcher was the Arizona Fall League. A scout quoted by Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore in an AFL overview said that Perry was, "'... still trying to find his consistency and command and stuff.'" Perry finished the regular season schedule with the Salt River Rafters with a (2-0) record in six starts, over which he had a 4.98 ERA, 5.23 FIP, eight walks (3.32 BB/9) and 16 Ks (6.65 K/9) in 21.2 IP. Perry will make one more AFL start this afternoon in the Championship Game when the Rafters take on the Peoria Javelinas in a matchup that will be broadcast on the MLB Network.
Perry's reportedly able to go 5.0 innings in this afternoon's game and fellow Nats' prospects Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin are expected to see action as well. Asked about pitching in the championship, Perry told MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo he looked forward to the chance to compete one more time:
"It's been a challenge. Pitching out here is tough. You have good hitters one through nine. It makes it interesting, you have to work on your stuff, locate and keep everything down, otherwise you'll be taken out of the park. I'm pretty fatigued, but a chance to go out there and compete one more time, I'm not going to complain."
The AFL Championship game starts at 3:00 pm EST. If you're watching feel free to chime in below as the Nats' prospects on the Rafters' roster play for the championship...