Testimonial Tuesday: Ryan McCrystal

Testimonial Tuesday: Ryan McCrystal

It is a recognized theme that players who want to be among the best, look for ways to surround themselves with others also considered to be the “best”. Ryan McCrystal, a 2021 two-way ECU commit out of Fuquay-Varina High School, has definitely found himself to be among some of the best players in the game. Just look at those players Ryan calls teammates and the level at which they operate.

Whether it be the roster of his Fuquay-Varina Bengals, who have multiple DI & DII commits, or the uber talented Dirtbags Bad Company roster he’s been a part of, the junior doesn’t have far to look in order to find top prospects that will push and motivate him. For McCrystal, just playing on those teams isn’t what brings the benefit or elevates his own game. 

A Dirtbag since the summer after his freshman year, Ryan finds the relationships built in those environments are the leverage points to produce the skills and a necessary mindset.

He has experienced playing premier events with elite competition with a group who will all play collegiately at a high level.  The way they push one another and their closeness has been the real difference maker, both for them collectively and for him personally.

With such a cast all around, it can be seen how he has used opportunities to develop on the diamond. McCrystal has evolved as a player in some respects when it comes to his skills. Long a catcher, he found himself on the mound as a freshman. He prospered at both. Add to that, he’s more than serviceable at either corner infield position and his offense makes him a DH candidate if needed.

Dirtbags coach Brent Haynes has mentored the multi-talented McCrystal as a member of the Dirtbags Bad Company team. He recognized those skills stating, “Ryan McCrystal is a very versatile player that can play catcher, the infield, the outfield, and even on the mound. His plus arm behind the plate can shut down a running game.”

But the one aspect of baseball where he has grown the most by his own admission, is the mental game. As he puts it, once he was surrounded by some of the best in the game in his class, “those types of guys”  made him want to be that much better. Additionally, the intentional guidance from coaches led him to overcome the routine obstacles and hindrances players may allow to stymie their performance. McCrystal recognizes that he can now rise above distractions and not fall into a cycle of complaining that he says players can so easily do.

With that in mind, his mental approach on the mound and at the plate becomes very similar. No matter what, Ryan says he’s simply trying to beat the other guy. His mantra is “I’m going to wear you down”. When taking the field as a position player, he tries to be the best he can be to help his team, whether making the routine plays in the field or blocking balls for the pitcher; it’s all a win-win for McCrystal.

Again Brent Haynes sees these mental approaches translate to functional skill on the field. “On the mound McCrystal is still learning but he showcases some electric stuff with a fastball up to 90. With the bat he has the potential to be a middle of the order hitter with gap to gap power,” according to Haynes.

But McCrystal is assuredly not not finished developing. In fact, this past off-season the 6’2” and 195 pounder made a huge focus on his body. He said by eating right and keeping good habits in regular weight room sessions he has once again made strides that will pay off in game performances.

Haynes sees it too, saying “McCrystal is just tapping into his potential and when he adds more strength to his frame he has a chance to be a really good two-way player.” 

And much of this building and work has continued to take place after he made a commitment to the  East Carolina Pirates in the fall of 2018 as a sophomore. On choosing ECU, Ryan made it clear he wanted to be a part of what is going on in Greenville, NC when he commented, “The coaching staff is the best in the country. They develop players and have such a history of winning.” 

According to McCrystal, a lot of credit goes to the Dirtbags when it comes to how he ended up with the opportunity to make such a commitment. He made specific mention of Haynes, as well as Dirtbags GM Trey Daly. 

Ryan was direct when he said, “I was on no one’s radar. Trey was there every step of the way, setting up calls and organizing schools to consider.”

The choice of becoming a Dirtbag was with that goal in mind all along.  Ryan mentioned the history of the organization in helping kids. The fact that the Bags always field good teams.  Those were the factors of pursuing that relationship. 

Since being a Dirtbag, he has definitely experienced the fruits of being in that culture. When asked for a favorite moment, it wasn’t a personal achievement or accomplishment.  But, instead Ryan referenced reaching the round of 16 in Ft. Myers in 2019 as a team. He called out the relationships of being a Dirtbags and the hard work it demands. He highlighted the expectation to be the best player you can be.

He says he feels the experience has definitely prepared him for college. The depth of the Dirtbags creates a constant push to continue to improve, or else get bypassed.  

“Create a great mindset preparing for college as a player and as a man to help me the rest of my life,” he said.

If that sounds grounded, it should.  McCrystal finds value in relationships. Especially one with his brother, Brandon who has special needs. The bond between the two is special and each takes away treasured moments that enhance their lives. Ryan expressed pure joy when describing how much his brother “loves watching me play.”

Relationships seem to provide enhancements for Ryan McCrystal. Offering him a path to be his best, in baseball, and in life.