Jake Perry, one of the top college baseball prospects in Minnesota’s class of 2021, has announced his verbal commitment to play for the University of Minnesota.
The Hopkins junior catcher and infielder has always been interested in the Gophers. He attended games and trained in the Gopher baseball summer camp. Perry made the first move in the recruitment cycle when he contacted Gopher assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Pat Casey.
“The men on the Gopher coaching staff are great coaches and even better people,” Perry said. “When you play for Minnesota, you’re not only a Gopher for that time. You’re a Gopher the rest of your life.”
The Gopher coaches cannot comment on Perry since he is not yet eligible to sign a national letter of intent. But no doubt they would love to have him for his quick left-handed bat and the fact he can play multiple positions. His credentials as a student and a citizen are likewise impressive.
In his first varsity season with Hopkins as a freshman in 2018, Perry started at first base and hit third in the lineup. That summer, playing for the Hopkins American Legion team, he moved to shortstop, which he said is his favorite position. As a sophomore, Perry moved behind the plate to work with a hard-throwing pitching staff led by Wyatt Nelson, Miles Halligan and Joey Hurth. Since the 2020 high school season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it isn’t certain where Perry might have played.
While he has switched positions frequently, the constant has always been his hitting. He is often over the .400 mark with good power to the pull side of the field.
“It is an advantage to be a left-handed hitter because that makes it easier to hit right-handed pitchers,” Perry said. “When my dad and I started with Wiffle Balls in the backyard, I gripped the bat left-handed.”
Perry, who sees himself as a power hitter, described his hitting style: “I like to swing early in the count and put the ball in play. I don’t strike out very often.”
Hopkins would have been one of the favorites for the state Class 4A baseball title this year with a solid pitching staff and five returning position starters.
“We had a chance,” Perry said. “We probably would have met Wayzata for the section title.”
Looking ahead to this summer, Perry is sure of one thing – he wants to play baseball. There are several options, including club baseball and local league play with some of his Hopkins and Legion teammates.
As a one-sport athlete, and with the spring season gone, it is important for Perry to get at-bats this summer.
“I played hockey up until ninth grade,” he said. “Then I decided to focus on baseball in high school.”
Anticipating his career season with the Gophers, Perry said, “The University of Minnesota program is special. There is a winning tradition, and they develop players. The expectation is that you’ll be a good person, on and off the field.”
After college baseball, Perry sees professional baseball as an option. But he isn’t going to rush that. His parents, Ryan and Kellie, are trusted guides along with grandfather Mike Perry, the former state American Legion Baseball director.
“I would love to play in the Major Leagues someday, but I’ll take it one step at a time,” Jake Perry said. “I have to see how I do the next couple years.”