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Sam Praytor's Hard Work Pays Off



Marlins catcher Sam Praytor still remembers the exact date—and the details.

“It was a Friday night game against Ball State. February 22nd, 2019. Sixth inning,” Praytor said. “We had scored some runs the previous inning. Long inning. It was cold . . .”

When it came time for Praytor to catch the final warmup toss and throw to second base to start the frame, it didn’t go well.

“I threw a four-hopper,” Praytor said.

Alabama’s trainers rushed out to check on Praytor.

His season was done after just six games. He needed elbow surgery.

But Praytor, a native of Helena, Ala., made it back in time for the 2020 season, hitting .350 with six home runs in 16 games before the pandemic canceled the rest of the season.

Then with the 2020 draft cut to just five rounds, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound backstop went unpicked.

He finally had a full collegiate season in 2021, playing in all 58 of Alabama’s games as a fourth-year player. He proved his worth with team-high 14 homers and earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors.

Alabama coach Brad Bohannon—who first scouted Praytor when he was 15 years old and the coach was an Auburn assistant—wasn’t surprised by his breakout season.

“The best thing about Sam is how much he loves to catch,” Bohannon said. “I remember the time I went to work out, and I look at the field, and there’s Sam all by himself. He had set up the pitching machine so he could practice catching and framing fastballs low in the zone.

“I have seen guys come in to work on their hitting, but this (solo catcher drill) was unheard of.”

The Marlins loved Praytor’s dedication and bat. They drafted him in the sixth round in 2021.

Praytor spent most of his pro debut with Low-A Jupiter, hitting .220/.373/.322 with 12 walks and 20 strikeouts in 20 games.

“He has all the God-given tools,” Bohannon said. “There’s more in there.”

Brady-McConnell-2017-abr

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