Astros prospect Luke Berryhill is also a catcher and country singer


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Luke Berryhill’s candidacy to become Mr. River Ridge hinged on memorizing words. The men’s beauty pageant sought to raise money for charity and continue a longstanding high school tradition. The candidates needed a talent. Singing is in Berryhill’s blood, so he sang the first verse of Easton Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That.”

“The place has gone crazy,” Berryhill said. “I couldn’t hear the music to come back. I was standing there (and) I couldn’t remember the words.”

Berryhill did not win the beauty contest but witnessed the birth of her second career. By day, he’s an ascending Astros prospect fresh off of a breakout season. At night, he strums an acoustic guitar, covers some of country music’s most recognizable songs, and plays at least two shows a week near his home in Woodstock, Georgia.

“I could sing in front of anybody after that,” Berryhill said of her first foray into performing. “I had never sung in front of anyone except my parents until the day before. That night, I was singing in front of 500 people.

Berryhill’s passions intertwined twice last season. He sang “The Star Spangled Banner” before the Class A Fayetteville and Class A Advanced Asheville matches. In bars and on YouTube, he covered songs by Turnpike Troubadours, Chris Young, Chris Stapleton and Bob Dylan. Bored while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Berryhill wrote his first original song in October, offering an ode to the journey he is on.

“It’s called ‘Road to the Show,'” Berryhill said. “Whatever you go through, it just started going through my mind, so I just started writing what we go through as a minor leaguer to reach the big guys.”

Details are abundant for Berryhill, who has attended two colleges and is in her second professional organization. The Astros acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Cionel Pérez ahead of the 2021 season. Berryhill only played eight professional games before becoming Astro.

Upon his arrival, the Astros coaches focused on charging Berryhill and placing hands in his swing. He once pointed the barrel of his bat at the first base dugout in his position. The coaches helped calm that down. So did a troublesome shoulder Berryhill played.

Berryhill first dislocated his left shoulder when diving into a base while in college. He came out in the first week of last season. Berryhill tore her labrum and suffered “five or six” subluxations. He played 73 games despite that, receiving a poignant — if not painful — lesson in discipline at the plate.

“It hurt every time I got long and took a bad swing or swung on bad ground. It made me aware of staying tight and swinging on good throws,” Berryhill said. “I really postponed that in the offseason when I started hitting again and spring training now. That and just simplifying everything, simplifying different movements with my hands, trying to be as quiet and compact as possible.

Berryhill beat .295 and .562 on three levels. Of all Astros minor leaguers with at least 250 plate appearances, Berryhill’s .974 OPS ranked behind Jake Meyers, who made his major league debut in July.

Houston named Berryhill its Minor League Player of the Year in October and brought him to Minute Maid Park for on-court recognition during the American League Divisional Series.

“I knew I had a good year, just by my standards, but I didn’t know I had such a good year,” Berryhill said. “It was a pleasant surprise, for sure. It really let me know personally how much all the hard work and everything leading up to this has paid off for me. It felt good.

Berryhill underwent shoulder surgery in September to repair his torn labrum. He made a full recovery and was unencumbered in minor league spring training. Berryhill remains determined to catch, but the Astros also expose him at first base. He started 22 games there last season – after not appearing at the start ‘since I was little’.

“It’s much more advanced now than it was then,” he laughs. “Back then, it was just stand there and catch. Now you have to make plays, read runners and all, know the situations. Being a catcher, I’m used to reading situations and stuff anyway. It wasn’t too hard. »

Much more has evolved since Berryhill’s youth. His father, Larry, sang professionally in Nashville throughout Luke’s childhood. His son followed his father to his concerts but never wanted to sing.

A high school beauty pageant changed plans and set Berryhill on a path he had never envisioned. It moved its representation to Creative Arts Agency this winter. The agency represents athletes from all sports, but also has a music division.

“They’ve got some interest, music-wise, but they want to see how baseball plays out first,” Berryhill said. “Which I’m 100% on board (with).”

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