Pérez 'in very good shape' to compete for '22 roster spot

March 3rd, 2022

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Carlos Pérez arrived at big league camp for Spring Training in 2021, he didn’t carry with him the hoopla of a top prospect in the White Sox Minor League system.

But that lack of a ranking for the non-roster invitee didn’t seem to faze manager Tony La Russa, who praised the catcher’s work starting in the first week.

“I’d like to be his agent,” said La Russa of Pérez last March. “He’s got a knack.”

“Carlos turned some heads in Major League camp last year,” said White Sox assistant general manager/player development Chris Getz. “[Major League instructor] Jerry Narron, and certainly Tony, they really fell in love with him, which was great for Carlos. It gave him some confidence and he went out and had a solid season at Double-A.”

Pérez should be back on the Major League side for Spring Training in ’22, but he has already taken part in the White Sox Minor League minicamp and is currently taking part in Minor League Spring Training at Camelback Ranch, since he is not part of the 40-man roster. Pérez checks in without a spot on the White Sox Top 30 prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline, but last year he put together one of his best Minor League seasons, as mentioned by Getz.

Over 107 games and 441 plate appearances, Pérez hit .264 with 25 walks and 45 strikeouts for Double-A Birmingham in ‘21. He has been a contact hitter since joining the White Sox in March 2014, with 127 strikeouts and 92 walks in 1,625 plate appearances, but with 13 home runs for the Barons in ‘21, Pérez raced past his previous single-season career high of three. He hit only seven career homers before breaking out last year.

“I think I can hit 20 or 25 [home runs],” Pérez said. “I tried to be more aggressive and swing hard every time, no matter the fastball or the breaking ball. I go to home plate, and I have a plan.”

“Does things fairly effortlessly, at least it appears that way,” Getz said. “He has bat-to-ball skills, he can certainly put the ball in play, he’s got some power. We’re going to continue to grow his game in all areas.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Pérez from playing in Minor League games in 2020, but he apparently wasn’t slowed down by the break. Pérez caught White Sox starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel during last year’s Spring Training and worked with starting catcher Yasmani Grandal, all while refining and developing his repertoire behind the plate.

“Sometimes they talked to me a little bit,” Pérez said. “They told me they like how I was catching the ball and receiving the ball and how I was presenting them the target. I consider myself a very solid receiving catcher, and I think there is still room for me to grow calling the games. That’s an area I can improve.”

Pérez’s offensive breakout has taken the focus because he is more established as a catcher. Getz praised Pérez’s catching and throwing skills, as he has thrown out 39 percent of would-be base stealers (95 of 246), including 30 of 71 last season for Birmingham and in a brief stint with Triple-A Charlotte.

His older brother, Carlos, was the biggest influence on the 25-year-old as they were growing up in Venezuela. He continues to serve in that role, since both brothers are catching professionally.

White Sox fans might remember the older Pérez from his sixth-inning solo home run off Jeff Samardzija during a 1-0 loss to the Angels in Anaheim on Aug. 19, 2015. He is now in the Rockies’ organization, but it might not be very long before his younger brother reaches the Majors with the White Sox.

“Yeah, I feel I can play in the big leagues this year,” Pérez said. “I think I’m ready.”

“He’s nearing the point where he can compete for a Major League spot. We believe that as an organization,” Getz said. “He’s in very good shape and showing the skills we’ve seen in the past, and it’s a good opportunity to spend more time with our Major League staff but also continue to refine his craft. Hopefully that puts him in position to have success this season.”