Photo credit: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks

Coming out of JSerra Catholic High School in southern California, which boasts a number of pro athletes as alumni including Guardians catcher Austin Hedges, Micah Pries wasn’t focused on becoming a professional baseball player. He didn’t even go to college for baseball. He embraced the opportunity to play for Division II Point Loma Nazarene but, in the end, he chose the school for its academics, culture and for its location right on the coast in San Diego. The Point Loma varsity baseball field is positioned so you see nothing but the blue of the Pacific Ocean if you look beyond centerfield from the stands. 

“I love the beach, I love to surf and I love the Christian atmosphere of the school,” Pries said. “I pretty much just went there for the school atmosphere and baseball was kind of a plus for going there because I didn’t have a lot of offers out of high school.”

Soon after he joined the Point Loma team, he became one of the central players on the club. 

“After my freshman year, I was one of the only guys that got to play every day. A lot more faces were turning to me and talking to me about my ability and that I’ll probably be able to play professional baseball.”

The experience opened Pries up to the belief that he could make it professionally, a thought  that he may have lost sometime between then and when he was a kid. 

“I always knew I wanted to play professionally but I didn’t always know I was capable of it and I didn’t always know that I was gonna be able to play professionally, especially going to Division II out of high school. I never thought I would be where I’m at today.”

In just his second year of professional baseball, Pries has burst onto the Guardians prospect scene by putting up a .834 OPS with 16 homers and 18 stolen bases. His 2022 accolades include an Eastern League Player of the Month award for June where he batted .312 and collected 17 extra base hits on the month. 

Hearing about Micah Pries’ family, no one would be surprised that he’s been one of the most productive hitters in the Guardians farm system this year. His grandfather, Don, was signed at 17 years old by Cleveland in 1945, played in the minors for them for four years and played ten more years of minor league ball for other teams. Don is best known for his successful time as a scout with the Baltimore Orioles that led to him being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Micah’s father, Jeff was a first round pick by the Yankees in 1984 and made it as high as Triple-A playing for the Columbus Clippers. Micah’s brother, Jake was a Division I outfielder playing for UCLA from 2016-2019. 

Having such a baseball-centric family, it was natural that baseball would be the sport Micah and Jake would focus on as they grew up together.

“We played a bunch of sports growing up but baseball definitely was a priority. We knew we had a great shot at making it professionally in baseball compared to other sports. We loved growing up together. We always got to hit together and my dad, being a pitcher, always got to throw us BP.”

Even with the family tradition of professional baseball, it wasn’t until Pries’ junior year of college in 2019 that he started to get looks from MLB scouts which led him to being selected in the 13th round of that year’s draft. 

“I never talked to any scouts in high school so that was the first time, during my junior year. It came at me pretty quick and the process got going pretty quick. It was pretty cool to get drafted there.”

After getting drafted, Pries had to face and overcome a two year hiatus from playing competitive baseball. He dealt with a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery in 2019 and the cancellation of minor league seasons in 2020. 

“It was definitely a hard process and I would say I was more nervous playing my first couple games professionally than I normally would because I didn’t play for two years. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to play with all these other guys that had been playing for the past two years. I was a little nervous at first, but then after the first week I saw that I fit in really well. From there on, I was more excited to play.”

Pries feels there is a special culture in the Cleveland organization that helps players feel comfortable at the level they’re at.

“The great thing about the Guardians organization is that everyone cares about each other and you get to know all these players and rise up with them. Everyone is pulling for each other so there’s not really any independent people on our team.”

Since settling into the organization Pries has had to work on his hitting as he rehabbed his injury and he has clearly made huge strides in that department. His award winning month of June was a great example of that.

“During that time it was a lot more fun to show up to the park every day. I know as a team that was probably the most games we were winning all year too and we were pushing towards that first half play spot. I think a lot of it was just coming out and being motivated to try to get that first place spot. I think that helped me push myself to keep my body healthy and to be able to feel good at the plate every day.”

While Pries’ best numbers at the plate came in June, he’s continued to be solid and recently delivered some big clutch hits — back to back walk-off singles on August 9 and 10. 

“Everyone always puts eyes on me for getting the game winning hit but when we come back with three runs in the ninth inning on back to back days, it really shows how our team atmosphere is and how everyone could come up clutch to get the big hit. I ended up getting the last bat in the end but everyone being able to get on base is just as important as me driving them in.”

In addition to the hitting that has earned him accolades and created some dramatic moments, Pries has also had to make some positional adjustments in 2022. He’s been the primary first baseman for Akron, starting 72 games there after playing just 14 games at first across different levels last year. 

“I think it’s just a different intellectual game [playing first base.] You have to really work your instincts at first base because you’re always in a play. We have really good infielders here so it’s a huge priority for me to try to make it easier on them.”

At 24, Pries is far from a finished product as he made his pro debut roughly 16 months ago in Low-A Lynchburg. He knows he can continue to improve his defense whether he’s in the outfield or at first and make some offensive adjustments to cut down on his strikeout rate. He knows making better swing decisions at the plate can help him continue his rise through the farm system to get to the majors. 

Micah Pries Profile

DOB: 2/27/98

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 210

Throws: Right

Bats: Left

College: Point Loma Nazarene University

Favorite food: Panda Express Orange Chicken

Favorite NBA team: Los Angeles Lakers

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite music artists: Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen

Favorite baseball movie: Field of Dreams

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.