Bakersfield Wins in Walk-off

Bakersfield made a nice comeback Friday night with a walk-off double in the ninth inning. Juan Perez contributed to the win with a three hits and a couple of runs. This is the fourth season in the organization for the late-rounder and his performance should get him a shot in AA in 2015.

Bakersfield made a nice comeback Friday when they scored two runs each in the eighth and ninth innings to win 6-5 over visiting Lancaster. They started cutting into a four-run deficit in the bottom of the second inning with a two-out single by brent peterson. The game was tied in the eighth from RBI-doubles by Juan Perez and Sebastian Elizalde. The Skyhawks retook the lead the next inning but the Blaze came back again in the bottom of that frame with a walk-off two-run double by Jeff Gelalich.

Perez led the home team with three hits and two runs while Elizalde and Gelalich added two hits apiece. Mike Dennhardt got the start and no decision from yielding four runs (one earned) on one hit/five walks while striking out five over six innings. Layne Somsen relieved him with two scoreless innings before Jake Johnson allowed a run in the ninth before hanging around to get the win.

This is Perez’s second season in the California League and he’s responded by putting up a .270 batting average thus far which is around .020’ higher than where he finished in 2013. On one hand that increase isn’t as big as it sounds because his on-base percentage is about the same. On the other hand he has raised his slugging percentage almost .050’ up to .430 with the help of a dozen homers compared to eight last year. The Cali League is notorious for inflating hitters’ power numbers but the improvement looks legit since it is compared to performance against same league pitching.

Perez will not turn 23 years old until after the end of this season so he’s still a little younger than average for the level. He stands 5’11”/185#, so they are some doubts that the power numbers will hold up as he advances. Still, he’s a middle infielder that does a decent job swinging a left-handed bat which should be enough to index him up to AA next season. In the field most of his action this season has been at second base after playing shortstop regularly previously, but that is probably due more to the presence of Zach Vincej on the roster with whom he shared duties before Ryan Wright’s promotion freed up a spot for both of them to play full time.

Perez has moved steadily up the system since Cincinnati selected him out of junior college with a 26th round pick in 2011. He started his professional career impressively by hitting .346 AVG/.424 OB in the Arizona League which prompted a move up to Billings. This is the first year that he’s repeated a level but his performance has been good enough to crash the Pensacola infield in 2015.

He’ll still probably be competing with Vincej and they will likely join up with Wright again when they arrive at Pensacola, but the three of them found regular action together at Bakersfield and they should be able to make it work again with the Blue Wahoos. There shouldn’t be much of a problem finding space on the roster because a couple of their infielders are holdovers from last season that are over 25 years old so they should be ready to either move up or move out.

Actually it won’t be the first time at the level for Perez because he was jumped up to the Southern League from Dayton for a few games in 2012. While there it would do him well to show improved plate discipline, but there’s good reason to think he’ll be able to do that because of large AVG/OB differentials he put up at lower levels. This late-rounder may not be cracking many top prospect lists, but he can hit and field so Cincinnati will be happy to keep a spot in their organization for him in 2015.


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