Tigers' Wenceel Perez Leaps Forward In 2022
One of the most scrutinized player development cases in the Tigers' system could easily be that of 23-year-old second baseman Wenceel Perez.
Once one of the more touted names to watch in the organization, Perez’s story took an about-face turn in 2019.
Perez signed for $550,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2016. His raw skill set intrigued the Tigers. He hit .314 in the Dominican Summer League in 2017 and kept hitting in his U.S. debut in 2018, when he reached Low-A for 16 games as an 18-year-old.
“(Perez) was one of those guys who just made it look easy,” an American League scout said. “I remember him back then. A little cocky—and nothing wrong with that—but mostly just having fun. He was in his element.”
It wasn’t long after his 2018 breakout that the 5-foot-11, 203-pound Perez began to spin his wheels. Over the next several seasons, Perez saw a spike in his strikeout rate.
“It was almost as if he was feeling pressure to swing at everything,” the AL scout said. “He looked lost. I think he knew as much as the Tigers knew that he was capable of (being) better at the plate.”
Fast forward to 2022 and Perez had rediscovered his form.
Perez slashed .286/.364/.529 with nine home runs in 55 games for High-A West Michigan, while cutting his strikeout rate to 16% before receiving his first promotion to Double-A Erie on June 16.
Perez put up a .914 OPS in 39 games with Erie. His final numbers at both levels settled at .295/.369/.534 with 14 home runs in 94 games.
“He got stronger finally,” a National League scout said. “He's staying on the ball longer, instead of slash and dash.”
The Tigers added Perez to their 40-man roster on Nov. 15 to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
“He’s got to hit, man,” the AL scout said. “I think you have the makings of a good utility option there, but I’m telling you, he has to keep hitting.”