Every day for the next few weeks you'll find a look back at the 2014 season for one of the Indians or their key prospects, as we sort out what happened and what it means for the franchise going forward.
- Position: C
- Age: 25
- Acquired: 33rd round pick in 2008 MLB Draft
Perez has gotten rave reviews for his defense for a long time. He has great footwork to go with a strong and accurate arm. Those skills mean that if he can develop into anything close to an average hitter, he could be a good MLB player.
Perez spent most of 2013 in Triple-A, after posting great numbers with Double-A Akron during the first couple months. In Columbus his offense went way, way down though, with an anemic line of .176/.269/.241. That decline was almost certainly due in large part to Perez suffering from Bell's palsy for much of the year, a form of facial paralysis that made it impossible for him to close his left eye for months. (He had to cover it with an eye patch when he tried to sleep.) Because of that condition (which he mostly got ver this spring), it didn't make sense to try and read much into his Triple-A numbers. The start of 2014 would be his chance to show what he could do, and he took advantage of the new opportunity.
Perez began the season with a 13-game hitting streak which included 3 home runs and 8 walks, for a batting line of .421/.522/.711. Of course he slowed down a bit, but by early July he was still sporting a line of .305/.405/.517. Meanwhile, the Indians had decided to stop asking Carlos Santana to moonlight as a backup catcher, and a couple other options hadn't panned out all that well, so Perez was called up to Cleveland.
He made his MLB debut on July 10 at home against the Yankees. He went 2 for 4. In the 8th inning he hit what at first looked like a double off the top of the wall, but after a replay review turned out to be his first career HR:
Homering against the Yankees in your MLB debut... it doesn't get much better than that.
Yan Gomes suffered a concussion that meant more playing time for Perez in August, and all told he appeared in 29 games, playing the great defense he was expected to, and also batting .271/.311/.365, for a wRC+ of 95, which is a tick above the MLB average for a catcher (which was 93 in 2014).
2014 grade: B+
Perez ought to begin 2014 as the Tribe's backup catcher again, and he looks to be a good one, the kind of guy you don't mind seeing start once or twice a week, which would help keep Gomes from wearing down as the season goes on. It's too early to know how thing will play out, but if he were to continue playing as well as he did after his promotion last season, Perez could be too good to keep as a backup, and become a valuable trading chip.