Hillcrest Lefty Stays Focused on Panthers Before Aggies
Ryan Prager brings curveball, slider, changeup, and 90 mph fastball to the mound
At their first practice, youth baseball coach Howard Prager gathered around a group of 9-year-olds and asked who wanted to try out as a pitcher.
Howard’s son, Ryan, was the only player who didn’t raise his hand. Now, nine years later, he doesn’t want to play anywhere else.
The lanky lefthander is a standout both for Hillcrest and for the Dallas Mustangs select team and already has verbally committed to Texas A&M University even before his senior season gets underway.
“Every year, I kind of got better,” Ryan Prager said. “I got bigger, started to throw harder, and learned to throw more pitches.”
The teen has been around baseball his entire life. His dad was a standout at W.T. White and UT Arlington before playing for seven years in the minor leagues in the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals organizations.
Once Ryan Prager became serious about pitching, his mentors included former major leaguer Jimmy Jones, a Preston Hollow native who has coached professionally for more than a decade.
Despite his initial reluctance, Ryan Prager to pitching at a young age primarily because he could throw more strikes than anyone else.
“I had some friends to throw with, so i tried to get better every day under some tough circumstances.”Ryan Prager
“That sparked my interest,” he said. “I knew I wanted to play baseball for as long as I could.”
About two years ago, he added muscle, increased his velocity, diversified his pitch arsenal, and refined his presence on the mound. College recruiting interest for the southpaw soon followed.
These days, his fastball tops 90 mph, complemented by an effective curveball and changeup. He recently developed a slider.
After leading Hillcrest to the playoffs as a sophomore, Prager’s junior season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I tried to stay in shape the best I could,” said Ryan Prager, who committed to the Aggie in May. “I had some friends to throw with, so I tried to get better every day under some tough circumstances.”
Prager is the top baseball prospect from Hillcrest since outfielder Matthew Sulentic in 2006. Sulentic also was committed to Texas A&M before signing with the Oakland Athletics organization and playing six minor-league seasons.
This summer, in addition to playing tournaments for the Mustangs, Ryan Prager was selected by the Texas Rangers to compete in the prestigious Area Code Games all-star event in Atlanta.
With the stressful recruiting process now behind him, he’s focused on leading the Panthers back to postseason play before he graduates, likely at the top of his class.
“His accolades speak for themselves. He’s constantly looking to improve himself. I’ve watched his desire push him,” said Hillcrest head coach Ashley Moore. “He epitomizes what a student-athlete is.”
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