Baseball in the genes for Twins' pick Perez

July 13th, 2021

When Mikey Perez is described as a player who’s well-coached, just know it makes perfect sense. Perez, a UCLA shortstop who the Twins selected in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, has two coaches for parents.

His father, Gerardo, is the longtime varsity baseball coach at Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif., where he’s helped over 70 players advance to either college or professional baseball. Perez’s mother, Kelly Inouye-Perez, is the head coach of UCLA’s softball team, which she’s led to two national championships (after winning three as an assistant coach and three as a player).

“I think that’s a very unique dynamic,” Gerardo said of the multi-coach household. “I think it gave him an understanding of culture -- how important it is -- perspective, family and just a greater awareness of the little things that equate to being successful.”

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“There’s never been a question that he was gonna push himself to be great at something,” Kelly added.

Baseball seemed like the obvious thing for Perez to pursue, but his parents made sure to open doors early to other sports, including soccer and football.

Kelly even brought Mikey to a San Diego Chargers practice once when he was in middle school, and then-defensive coordinator Ron Rivera (now the head coach of the Washington Football Team) taught him tackling techniques, among other things.

“And it just did not get [Mikey] really fired up,” Kelly recalled, laughing. “Baseball has always been his love. He’s been surrounded by it his whole life.”

At nine months old, Perez took his first steps on a Women’s College World Series field. He spent years taking road trips with his mom, and by the age of 3, he’d already stepped on every Pac-12 campus.

Well before entering high school, Perez was hanging around Gahr’s baseball field while his dad worked. When he grew old enough for his dad to also be his coach, the overlap was never a problem.

“He’s such an outstanding, great person and kid that it made my job really easy,” Gerardo said. “There were times where you’d just say, ‘Hey, as your father, this is what I’m saying. As your coach, I think this.’”

Perez’s mom doesn’t have to strike that balance. She’ll talk baseball with her son whenever he wants, but she never initiates letting her coaching side out.

“Although I’m obviously in the same profession, I strongly believe in balance,” Kelly said. “I love him regardless; I don’t get stressed when he plays. I just enjoy watching him compete.”

Perez had a limited window to compete at UCLA given his lack of playing time as a true freshman in 2019 and the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. In total, he amassed an .833 career OPS, which included 11 home runs in 57 games this season.

He’s eligible to return to college if he wants, but obviously there’s a chance now to begin his pro career in the Twins organization. Whichever route he chooses, Perez has two parents who can help coach him through his next steps.

“He’s just been surrounded by an environment of pursuing excellence,” Kelly said. “And I think he’s always had a strong work ethic; he’s surrounded by role models and people who’ve inspired him to chase his dreams.”