Detroit Tigers infield prospect Hernan Perez is gaining attention with his ability to put the bat on the ball and play stellar defense for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves in the Eastern League.
Perez, who is No. 12 on the Tigers' Top 20 Prospects list, came to the Tigers in July 2007 as an international free agent from Aragua, Venezuela. He has played parts of six seasons, accumulating 2,395 Minor League plate appearances over 576 games. In 2012, he played two games as a fill in for the parent Tigers.
The 6-foot-1, 185 pound Perez is only 22 years old. His mechanics and maturation are advanced for his age.
I first scouted Perez when he played for the Salt River Rafters as part of the Tigers' 2011 Arizona Fall League contingent. He had an outstanding fall, hitting a very solid .302 with six doubles among his 19 hits. He struck out only nine times in 63 at-bats.
Perez played 17 of his 18 games at second base in Arizona. He played left field for two innings in the other game.
Perez is having success again this season with a short, compact stroke that finds the ball. He isn't overly aggressive, but he doesn't take pitchers deep in counts, either. He has an extremely refined eye at the plate, with a very good knowledge of the strike zone. He is disciplined and doesn't swing at bad pitches.
When Perez sees a pitch he likes, he swings. He isn't at the plate to walk. That's reflected in a very low walk rate, an issue he may want to improve -- especially with his good speed and an ability to steal bases.
Perez is currently second in the Eastern League with 21 stolen bases. He has been caught seven times.
A right-handed hitter, Perez has good enough bat control to wait back on pitches long enough to take the ball to the opposite field. He projects to be capable of hitting behind a runner or finding a hole when a defense is shifting. He has gap power.
So far this season, of Perez's 96 hits in 344 plate appearances, 24 are doubles. He also has a triple and four home runs. He leads the Eastern League in hits.
Defensively, Perez has played both shortstop and second base in his career. His range is good to both sides and coming in on the ball. His first step quickness and his arm strength are good enough for him to play either position. I like him best at second base, where I think his footwork on the double play is a plus. But if needed, he would play well at shortstop.
While some observers feel he is a utility player, I believe Perez is very capable of playing second base on a regular basis.
Perez is a pesky player with the ability to get on base and score runs. He's the type of player that makes things happen.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.