Perez could be a weapon for Revs

Kenny Perez has not gotten off to the start he’d like in spring training, going 0-for-5 in a couple of games at the TigerTown complex in Lakeland, Fla.

But Perez has shown glimpses of why he could be one of the most crucial players for the York Revolution this season. He’s crushed two home runs this spring and could provide an element of power from the infield positions that was lacking on York’s team last year.

Perez’s second home run of the spring came in the Revs’ 4-2 loss to Long Island on Sunday afternoon — the first blemish in the loss column on York’s all-time spring training record (7-1-1).

Perez has played at Triple-A for the last three seasons — a year apiece with Boston, Arizona and the Chicago White Sox — so it would not be surprising at all to see the Miami native signed quickly if he gets off to a hot start in the Atlantic League. His age (26) is working in his favor and his versatility is one of his strengths.

Perez can play any infield position — including first base — and has also learned the corner outfield spots the last two years.

“I started playing the outfield the last two years and to me, that’s pretty easy coming from the infield,” Perez said. “I came in as a shortstop, and that’s cake for me, but third and second are coming along and a little bit of first.”

Perez has hit seventh in the Revs’ order and with the way others are swinging the bat in front of him, chances are that’s likely where he’ll remain to start the year. But Perez definitely has the skills to hit higher in the order if needed. He hit .270 at Triple-A Charlotte last season, so we can expect a nice increase from that number when he’s faced with Atlantic League pitching.

But his defensive skills might be his most important asset on manager Chris Hoiles’ club this year. He has played a solid third base during the spring and could move over to shortstop if Keoni De Renne struggles there — although De Renne made a couple of very nice plays at short in spring camp.

Perez is also a switch-hitter, something he picked up during his freshman year of high school.

“It’s another weapon you can have, and it took awhile for me to get used to it,” Perez said. “I just started from the beginning. It’s weird, and I have more power from the right side (his natural side), but for me it’s easier than switching to the left side.”

I consider Perez an upgrade over Rayner Bautista — essentially the player Perez is replacing this year. Bautista was underrated for most of his time with York and was a great doubles hitter, but it’s clear that Perez has the pop that Bautista never seemed to find.

Perez should also rebound from his slow start to post a pretty nice batting average. He could compete with De Renne for the highest average on the team, based on what I’ve seen so far.

*Photo by Dispatch photographer Bill Kalina.

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2 Responses

  1. That’s too bad about the Spring Training streak, although it’s nice to see that they only gave up four runs this time.

    I’m really excited about Perez. It’s particularly intriguing that he’s hit a few homers already this spring. Hopefully, that’s an indicator that his homer/at bat ratio last year was legit.

    I’d like to see Perez hit higher in the order. I like the idea of DeRenne leading off and Perez as the number two hitter. Basically, that would put two .300-ish hitters (if we accept that Perez will likely be one in the AL) at the top of the order for Padgett, Esquivel, Dryer, and Aspito to knock in.

    I’m not sold on Ezi as the leadoff man. There is a lot to like about Ezi (speed, defense, and some power) but his skills aren’t ideally suited to leading off. He’s not a high average guy and he strikes out a lot for someone batting that high.

    Let’s say Ezi bats seventh instead, he still has enough power for that spot and his speed will be useful when he is leading off or hitting early in an inning. Anyone hitting eighth or ninth (Cruz, Tanaka, or the catchers) isn’t going to be much of a threat for a home run, so it makes a lot more sense for Ezi to risk a steal attempt on second in that situation than it would with the sluggers on deck waiting to hit, as would be the case if he’s hitting out of the one spot.

  2. The jury is definitely still out on Ezi, although you can’t argue with what he’s done this spring so far. I don’t have the complete box from Sunday’s game, but I’m pretty sure he’s hit in every game.

    At the same time, he’s the type of guy who will keep the manager awake at night. He is so fast — he was onced involved in a trade for Juan Encarnacion — that you want to utlilize that skill at the top of the order. However, in his career, his on-base production has kept him buried in lineups.

    I’m really interested to see what happens with Tanaka. If Aspito is hitting, there’s no way Tanaka plays over him in left. And Tanaka proved last year that he needs consistent at-bats to be successful.

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