After completing a standout four-year career at Georgia Tech, Ryan Peurifoy was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

It’s a Pirate’s life for Ryan Peurifoy. The Starr’s Mill alum is embarking on a pro baseball career in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and the early results are promising.

At a school known for athletic achievements, Peurifoy ranks as an all-time great Panther. He left Starr’s MIll as the record holder in single-season hits, single-season doubles, single-season triples, career hits, and career RBI.

“Ryan was a tremendous player for Starr’s Mill,” said Brent Moseley, his high school coach. “He holds many offensive records but more than that he had a tremendous attitude. You could always tell that he just loved baseball.”

Peurifoy looks back on his high school career with a lot of fondness.

“My playing days at Starr’s Mill were the most fun and some of the best memories I’ve made playing baseball,” he said. “Getting to play together with my best friends and compete at a high level, you couldn’t ask for a better experience.”

Panther baseball taught him that focusing on the little details made the big picture that much better.

“I learned that you have to come out everyday and work to improve your skills to stay ahead of the competition,” he said. “I loved practicing almost as much as games.”

His play caught the eye of plenty of schools, but when it came time to make his college decision, the answer was already in his blood. His father, George, graduated from Georgia Tech in 1983 where he was on the golf team, so Ryan grew up with a healthy love of the gold at white.

He hit the ground running, starting in right field on opening day of his freshman year. He finished his Yellow Jacket career with a .282 batting average and 43 multi-hit games, but he did some of his best work in the field where he ranks second in school history for outfield assists. After a trying junior campaign, Peurifoy bounced back with a strong senior season, helping out his draft stock. Playing in all 55 games and missing just one start due to his graduation ceremony, the business administration major was on the radar of several MLB teams.

All his work led up to mid-June and the MLB Draft. The wait to hear his name was excruciating.

“I was pretty excited at the beginning because this is the day I’d been waiting for my whole life,” he said. He didn’t expect to go on the first day, but from there the nerves set in. “I knew I wouldn’t hear anything the first day, so that was an easy first night just watching. Waiting the next two days had me pretty nervous and not sure if it was going to happen or not.

“I tried distracting myself by getting out of the house and going and doing things like bowling and lunch, but the whole time I was checking my phone waiting for a call.”

Peurifoy’s name is still found throughout Starr’s Mill’s baseball record book.

In the 38th round he got that life-changing call when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had heard from their area scout in the days leading up to the draft, so he knew there was interest.

“He asked if I was still ready to go and to make sure I’d sign, so I was excited to hear that, but the day seemed to drag on waiting for the call,” he said. “Finally Pittsburgh called and asked me a few finalizing questions and said ‘Alright I’m calling the GM telling him you’re good to go.’

“The next thing I know I’m listening to the draft and Pittsburgh came up and they selected me. I was just so excited and relieved. So many emotions came to me so fast it was amazing.”

Everyone back home was rooting for the family.

“I think when a player gets drafted it’s obviously good for the program but more than anything I’m proud for him and for his family,” said Moseley. “There is always a lot of work and sacrifice by both Ryan and his family, so I am just happy to see that goal achieved for all of them.”

After signing his contract, he was assigned to the Bristol Pirates out of Virginia in the Appalachian League. Through his first 15 games of his professional career, he’s holding his own, hitting .250 with 1 home run and 9 RBI.

His experience playing baseball in the ACC has been a huge help.

“Being a four-year college guy, you gain a lot of baseball knowledge and experience, so going from there to pro ball in the beginning there really isn’t much of a difference in skill level,” he said, calling the language barrier the biggest difference. “Forming relationships with your teammates isn’t as easy, but my team is full of a bunch of great guys that love to play baseball.”

The transition to pro ball has been a grind. After reporting to Bristol June 25, he’s only had one day off so far in July. Even so, he wouldn’t trade his opportunity for the world.

“It’s so awesome to feel like I’ve made all my friends and family proud and that I can represent them in the Major Leagues.”