Blue Jays prospect Sam Ryan talks about college ball, pitching at Nat Bailey Stadium, and the 2023 season

Photo credit:VCU Athletics
Tyson Shushkewich
1 year ago
For Toronto Blue Jays prospect Sam Ryan, the right-hander had his pick of colleges in which to continue his baseball career but he chose to not stray too far from home.
Virginia Commonwealth University has such a great stadium and it was so big, you could see it from the highway. I took a tour during my junior season, and I had such sentimental feelings about being on that campus and in that stadium. It was far enough from home where I could live the college experience but close enough that my family could come to see me pitch.”
The Fairfax, Virginia product spent three seasons with the Rams, posting a 3.73 ERA through 118.1 innings of work with a 1.234 WHIP and a 9.9 K/9. In his Junior campaign, Ryan made 20 relief appearances and amassed a 2.70 ERA with a team-high seven saves.

Blue Jays prospect Sam Ryan goes in-depth on why he choose to attend VCU, his recovery from Tommy John, and his goals for the 2023 season

Heading into the 2019 MLB Draft, Ryan knew he was on the draft radar for a few teams but the overall process was a whirlwind of a week, “The process overall was hectic because I was pretty sure I would hear my name called in the draft but I wasn’t sure when or where. I had pre-draft meetings with the Blue Jays and I had a feeling I would be selected on day three but there were a few of us on the team going through the process and I eventually found out I was drafted by the Blue Jays via Twitter when I was in the weight room. Shortly after, I got a call from a Canadian phone number.”
Ryan would join the Bluefield Blue Jays in Rookie ball to finish out the year, amassing a 6.31 ERA through 11 outings (eight starts). He didn’t pitch in 2020 like many Minor League players because of the COVID-19 shut down but he returned in 2021, splitting time between High-A Vancouver and AA New Hampshire before having to be shut down due to injury in mid-July.
“I remember I threw a slider and it was a very sudden pain in my arm. I was in a two-strike count and I wanted to finish the batter, so I threw another slider and struck him out but I knew that it was bad,” the right-hander said. “It was a new experience for me being injured and having to get surgery, and I got the modified Tommy John procedure with the internal brace. The recovery period is shorter and the one thing the Blue Jays really emphasized was not rushing me back to the mound and just letting me get healthy again. That allowed me to accept the injury for what it really was and get back stronger than ever.”
Ryan would wind up on the shelf for almost a full year, making his return to the diamond on July 12, 2022, with the Florida Complex Blue Jays. The Virginia product would be moved to Single-A shortly after and eventually finished the year back in High-A with the Canadians. “Pitching at Nat Bailey Stadium is incredibly cool, all the fans in Vancouver are absolutely crazy and they are always on their feet and showing up to each and every game.”

Looking ahead to the 2023 campaign

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, the 24-year-old worked on his fitness to keep himself healthy for the entire campaign, “I really wanted to get stronger in my lower half which I think will really help me hold my velocity as well as keep me on the mound for a full season. Staying out there and staying healthy is one of my main goals. I also want to limit the free bases and not get behind counts. When I pitch effectively and in the zone, I feel like I can trust my stuff and get the swing and miss needed to get batter’s out and not issue any walks.”


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