A trusted backup catcher is hard to come by. The Indians believe they’ve found one in Roberto Perez, who will spell Yan Gomes to open the 2015 campaign. This one-two punch gives the Tribe one of the top catching duos in all of baseball.
Drafted by the Indians in the 33rd round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft from Florida Gateway College, Perez spent five seasons in the Tribe’s farm system before being called up last July.
He opened the 2014 season at Triple-A Columbus, where he hit .305 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 53 games. Behind the plate, Perez erased 39% (14-22) of the runners who tested his arm.
Perez was named to the International League team in the Class AAA All-Star Game, but didn’t get to play in the game because the Indians called him up. Instead, he had an All-Star major league debut to remember. In a 9-3 win over the New York Yankees, Perez went 2-3 with a home run, walk, two RBI, and two runs scored.
The Puerto Rico native quickly gained the trust of the coaches and pitching staff, solidifying himself as the team’s backup catcher. In 29 games with Cleveland, Perez hit .271 with one home run, four RBIs, and 10 runs scored. Defensively, he gunned down 33 percent (7-for-21) of base runners – one point higher than Gomes at 32 percent (31-97).
At 5’11, 225 pounds, Perez is as tough as they come. In 2013, he suffered from Bell’s Palsy, a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve. He couldn’t close his left eye for months and had to sleep with a patch over it. With basically one eye, he still managed to throw out 35% (37-106) of base runners in a season split between Columbus and Double-A Akron. Perez’s eye is better now and he’s ready for his first full season in the big leagues.
According to FanGraphs.com, the Indians were the fifth best behind the plate in 2014. With Gomes and Perez back, it’s safe to say the catching position is a bright spot on a team that had its share of issues on defense last year. We look forward to watching Perez grow while learning from one of the game’s best in Gomes.
Photo credit: Perez Jason Miller/Getty Images
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He appeared unintimidated when he arrived, and, like Gomes, does not make a lot of soft outs. He has some value, for sure.