Felix Perez wasn't under contract with any organization last year. He had agreed to terms with the Yankees in the spring of 2009, but that deal fell apart when the U.S. Consulate discovered the Cuban outfielder had lied about his age. Perez, 25, was suspended for a year, then signed a contract for $550,000 with the Reds in May.
After a 16-game warmup in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, Perez came to the U.S. and hit .338/.397/.462 in 16 games for high Class A Lynchburg. The lefty-hitting Perez made his Double-A debut yesterday, going 2-for-5 with a double for Carolina. Perez is older than most prospects in the Southern League, but being a Cuban defector, he's not your average 25-year-old in Double-A. His ceiling isn't huge, but he should be at least a useful fourth outfielder if not better at some point soon.
Taking His Haks
Few teams are as active in the Pacific Rim as the Cubs. One of their prize finds from South Korea is low Class A Peoria shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, who in his first game back from the Futures Game went 4-for-5 with a double. Lee is an outstanding runner with 22 steals in 27 attempts, and he's shown feel for hitting as well. Lee has little power–he hasn't hit a home run yet this year and might not hit one the rest of the season–but his athleticism, speed and ability to put the ball in play could make him a dangerous player once he adds strength.
Athletics shortstop and 2009 first-round pick Grant Green returned from the Futures Game by going 1-for-3 with his ninth home run of the year for high Class A Stockton. Meanwhile, low Class A catcher Max Stassi, who signed for $1.5 million last year as a fourth-round pick, went 2-for-4 and added a home run of his own, his 11th of the year. While Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and some of the A's better prospects are going through growing pains higher in the minors leagues, Green and Stassi are leading a promising 2009 draft class for Oakland. Green, 22, has shown an advanced bat with a .321/.369/.493 line in the Cal League, while scouts have praised Stassi's catch-and-throw skills amidst the 19-year-old's .249/.312/.436 showing in 70 games for the Cougars.
Not Quite Right
Jaff Decker went 3-for-5 with a double yesterday for high Class A Lake Elsinore, but something isn't quite right with the Padres outfielder. A year ago, Decker hit .299/.442/.514 for low Class A Fort Wayne, showing a golden batting eye with 84 walks and 95 strikeouts in 104 games. The Padres were excited when Decker showed up to spring training camp having shed a few pounds, but he didn't join Lake Elsinore until mid-May because of a hamstring injury. Since his return, Decker has hit a modest .246/.342/.401 in 49 games. Even his outstanding approach seems to be missing, with more than twice as many strikeouts (55) as walks (24).
When the Rays drafted Justin O'Conner this year with the 31st overall pick in the first round, one of his strengths was supposed to be his power. O'Conner, 18, had yet to leave the yard until yesterday, when he went 2-for-3 and hit his first professional home run in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. The righthanded-hitting O'Conner is batting .146/.246/.271 through 15 games.
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