Tigers Prospect Profile #19: Hernan Perez

Due to a strange set of circumstances, Hernan Perez got the chance to make his big league debut in 2012, remaining in Detroit for a few days as a utility man. What does Perez have to do to get back there, and can he do so as more than a utility player?

Hernan Perez
Position: Shortstop
Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Born: 3/26/1991
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 2007
Ranking History: #24 (2011), #96 (2010), #34 (2009), #175 (2008), #104 (2007)

Perez signed for just over $200,000 at the start of the 2007 international signing period and debuted with the VSL Tigers the following summer. In 68 games, Perez hit .226 with eight doubles, four triples and his first professional home run.

Despite being just 18-years old the Tigers brought Perez to the US for the 2009 season. He played 21 games with the GCL Tigers but was also bounced around to Low-A West Michigan and High-A Lakeland as needs came up. All told he hit .239/.263/.350 in 54 games across three levels.

The Tigers let Perez settle in a bit in 2010 as he played 124 games with Low-A West Michigan. Still just 19-years old, Perez struggled with the full-season assignment, hitting only .235 but picked up 15 doubles and five home runs.

With a return trip to West Michigan in 2011, Perez improved across the board, bumping his batting average to .258, knocking 23 doubles and eight home runs. He also improved his walk and strike out rates on top of stealing 23 bases in 29 attempts.

Finally showing progress, Perez was added to the 40-man roster prior to the 2012 season and the Tigers promoted him to High-A Lakeland. In 124 games, Perez hit .261 with 20 extra-base hits and 27 steals. In addition, when the Tigers needed a backup infielder in a pinch, Perez saw action in two games at the Major League level last year.

Scouting Report
Though it sounds cliché, Perez is just a baseball player. He has tremendous makeup, excellent intelligence and good instincts for the game. He is a max-effort player that earns a grinder tag from many scouts.

In the field, Perez is a very good defensive second baseman. He struggled during some stretches in 2012 but he has consistently shown good instincts, proper footwork and soft hands at the position. His arm is an above-average tool that plays well on the pivot. He can handle shortstop when necessary but lacks ideal range for the position.

Perez will never have a strong offensive profile but he can drive the ball to all fields and should be able to hit .250-.260 with gap power at his peak. He has good bat speed and recognizes pitches pretty well, allowing him to make solid contact and avoid strikeouts. He can be a tough out, often battling deep into counts and putting together quality at-bats.

While Perez doesn't have a ton of power, he does have good strength in his frame and his swing, allowing him to lace line drives with ease. He can find the gaps and will even punch the ball out of the park at times. With consistent at-bats, he could pile up 15-20 doubles and 5-7 home runs a year, making him a small threat to hurt pitchers.

Perez isn't a burner, showing off average to solid-average speed down the line, but he makes up for his lack of top-end speed with exceptional instincts on the bases. He reads both right-handed and left-handed pitchers very well and gets tremendous jumps when he wants to steal bases. Even without true base-stealing speed, Perez could swipe 15-20 bags a year.

Perez lacks a carrying tool and that fact limits his overall projection. On the other hand, all of his tools play at some level in game situations and his instincts helps accentuate those tools on a day-to-day basis. While Perez doesn't profile as an everyday guy, he could be a nice utility player.



































Health Record
After wearing down significantly in his first full season (2010), Perez has shown an ability to be a durable player that can handle playing every day. He has not had any significant injuries in his career.

Projecting players to a utility role is a tricky thing. Minor league second baseman with a utility profile must be able to play on the left side of the infield, something Perez can actually do. He can contribute at the plate and on the bases, giving him some additional value to a big league bench. The organization loves Perez's work ethic and believes he can be a quality utility player, possibly as soon as late-2014 or 2015.

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