Aaron Perry had a heck of a choice to make. Would he join the University of Kentucky baseball team, where he signed in November, or would he sign with the Boston Red Sox, who made him a 14th-round draft pick earlier this month, right out of Hurricane High School?
The Red Sox won out.
Perry agreed to terms with Boston on Monday afternoon and will fly to Fenway Park on Thursday morning for physicals and testing. He should officially sign with the Red Sox by Saturday at the latest and then fly to Fort Myers, Florida, and the Red Sox training facility to start his pro career.
“Ever since I started playing, when I was young-young, that’s about every kids dream, to play a professional sport,” Perry said. “It’s just breathtaking. It’s still unreal right now. I can’t believe it’s really true.”
Perry said it was a tough decision between UK and the Red Sox, considering how much he liked the Wildcats’ coaching staff and players, but the opportunity to go pro was too good to pass up.
The Perry family declined to disclose the terms of the deal, but said he signed above the slot for his draft position. Major League Baseball did not release draft bonus slot numbers past the 10th round, but 10th-round slots ranged between $137,100 and $131,300.
Perry continues rehabbing a stress fracture in his pitching elbow that cut short his senior season at Hurricane on April 18. Before that, he was 3-1 on the mound with 34 strikeouts in 21 innings with a 0.33 ERA. He also batted .628 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. Perry said he finished his last day of physical therapy in the Kanawha Valley on Tuesday and is ready to get into Boston’s training program.
Hurricane baseball coach Brian Sutphin said what will work to Perry’s advantage is his youth and his short time focusing on pitching. Perry turned 18 on May 31 and, while he hasn’t focused on pitching for long, he has developed a 95-miles-per-hour fastball and a change-up Sutphin considers a pro-level pitch.
“Pitching is relatively new to Aaron,” Sutphin said. “Early in his high school days, I think he viewed himself more as an infielder. Then his velocity spiked so much that his primary position became pitcher. I know with the pro guys that was a plus for him, that he hasn’t been overused and he hadn’t been a pitcher since he was 10 years old, going out and throwing 100 innings every year.”
Perry said there are so many aspects to his new life as a pro baseball player that he can’t wait to experience.
“Competition-wise, you’re playing at a top-notch level and that’s really exciting,” Perry said. “Hopefully here soon, I’ll be able to get out and throw. I just got out of the arm brace and the arm feels good. You realize you can’t take anything for granted and play every game like it’s your last.”