Michael Perez Keeps Maturing As A Catcher
For catcher Michael Perez, the light switch went off during a conversation in the Colombian League two winters ago. His approach at the plate changed, followed by his results and, finally, by his status as a prospect.
Perez has put himself back on the radar, to the point that he’s a candidate to be added to the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster this month after hitting .279/.365/.424 with five home runs in 80 games at Double-A Jackson this year.
Perez, a 2011 fifth-round pick out of high school in Puerto Rico, credited his former winter ball teammate Juan Ciriaco for urging him to start using the whole field when he found himself in a slump at the plate.
"It really helped me with my approach and looking for my pitch,” Perez said through a translator. "It helped me, first, to try to keep my bat through the zone longer because I was really pull-happy. And I started to look more to keep the ball in the middle of the field, like shortstop or center (field).”
Long viewed as a solid defender, Perez’s uptick in offensive production has some scouts now viewing him as a big league backup. It helps that he’s a lefthanded hitter.
"It’s sunk in for Michael,” minor league hitting coordinator Chris Cron said. ". . . He’s now spitting on pitches and swinging the bat with intention to hit it in certain places.”
Perez, who throws and blocks well, also gets good marks for his ability to call a game. His pitch-framing could use some work, and it’s something he focused on in the Arizona Fall League. His manager there, J.R. House, has managed Perez in the D-backs system each of the past three seasons, and he said Perez has made improvements on receiving pitches low in the strike zone.
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"When you get high school kids, you never know how long it’s going to take them to develop,” House said. "It’s taken him a little bit longer. He’s matured. All the things you would hope a catcher would do, he’s doing now. He really took big strides this year in becoming that type of player.”