TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #40: Audry Perez

After reaching the majors, the system's top defensive catcher makes his second straight Top 40. Today's initial report in our annual prospect countdown is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
38 C 12/23/1988 5-9 180 R R 2008 FA

Selected 2013 stats

Spr 0.209 0.229 215 16 45 12 6 26 3 39 0 0.257 0.234 0.349 0.583
Mem 0.211 0.238 90 7 19 3 0 7 2 10 0 0.217 0.228 0.244 0.473
Total 0.210   305 23 64 15 6 33 5 49 0   0.232 0.318 0.551
StL 0.000 0.000 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000

Comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Brian Walton (36): I generally do not think about positional rankings while preparing my personal top 40, but in the case of catchers for 2014, I did spend a bit of time there.

This year compared to last, I dropped Perez four spots on my personal top 40, yet he is still my best-ranked backstop. In other words, the position is very thin in terms of standout prospects – arguably the weakest in the Cardinals system.

Two years ago, three catchers placed in our top 26. Last year, none placed in our top 31, with three different voters naming three different backstops first at the position. Since then, the contenders have been sorted out a bit. Adam Ehrlich had an injury-shortened season and 2012 supplemental first-rounder Steve Bean has yet to make a mark in rookie ball. The organization did not select a backstop in the 2013 draft until their 15th pick and no catcher really stepped forward during the season.

Perez remains, with the main resume-builder in the last year being his addition to the 40-man roster and his subsequent major league debut in September – albeit a very brief one. Like Rob Johnson, Perez benefited from Yadier Molina's knee injury, moving up to Triple-A Memphis to backfill Johnson in early July just after being named Texas League Player of the Week.

It may seem as if Perez has been around forever, and he has been a professional for six years. Yet he is just 24, and was named an all-star in three of his six seasons, including 2012 in the Texas League.

Perez' biggest offensive shortcoming may be a resistance to taking the walk, with just five all of last season. Though his batting average dropped 53 points from 2012, the right-handed hitter had more extra-base hits and cut his strikeout rate slightly. As his BABIP indicates, Perez was extremely unlucky last season.

His work behind the plate remains solid. In fact, his caught-stealing rate was the highest in the Texas League in 2012 and he nabbed a credible 32 of 77 (41.6 percent) of potential basestealers in 2013.

The Cardinals took the chance of leaving Perez unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft last December and the strategy worked. A year later, he is the organization's apparent third catcher after Johnson departed.

Perez should receive every opportunity to play regularly at Memphis in 2014, but should not get too comfortable. Minor league veteran Ed Easley was added as a free agent and will be looking over Perez' shoulder to be first in line when help is needed in St. Louis.

Message board community (NR): Unranked through number 46 by the community, Perez made Brian's list as noted above. By the combination of the two, Perez finished as the 40th prospect in the system - just two spots lower than his 38th ranking last year.

Perez is well-known in and around the organization for his catch-and-throw abilities - so well known in fact that he was named by Baseball America as the best defensive catcher in the system – at what is one of the weakest organizational positions.

In what was perhaps his worst offensive year of his professional career, Perez really regressed. His OPS dropped from .627 in 2012 all the way down to .551 in 2013 between Springfield and Memphis.

Even though he did not pick up his offense in 2013, Perez still received a surprising September call up to the big leagues. He only appeared in two games for St. Louis, going up to the plate once.

There is no reason to believe Perez could not have an MLB career as a reserve, defensive-only catcher. You can expect to see Audry as either the back-up or starting catcher in Memphis next year along with recent minor league signee Ed Easley. - DTFlush234

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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