Hernan Perez: Man of the Future?

With the trade of Aramis Ramirez, the Brewers have decided to allow Hernan Perez to fill his spot at the hot corner and play his way into or out of the team’s future plans. While Perez has been with the team for almost two months now, most fans know little about him. I thought it would make sense to take a deeper dive into Perez’s big-league career, thus far, to review how he arrived at this position and whether there’s hope for him to become a mainstay in the lineup beyond the listless 2015 campaign.

The Brewers claimed Perez off waivers from the Tigers on June 2. He spent parts of four seasons with the big-league club in Detroit. During that time, he played all over the infield, logging the most time at second and third base. In the minors, Perez originally was slated to play shortstop, but he was moved to second base to ease the demands on his defense. His cumulative FRAA in Detroit was -1.0, spread out amongst all positions. He has only rated above average at first base, which is fair to say that it’s inconsequential, since he has no future at first in the majors.

On the other side of the ball, a Baseball Prospectus scouting report projected Perez to potentially have a 50 hit tool, but that failed to emerge in Detroit. Small sample size alert, but the only season he posted a TAv above .230 was a two plate appearance cameo in 2012. However, he only logged 111 other plate appearances with the Tigers, so it’s difficult to read too much into his big-league TAv.

Looking at his minor-league numbers, Brewers’ fans can scrounge up a little more hope. Perez is still only 24 years old, spending most of 2013 in Double-A and 2014 in Triple-A. At those stops, his bat showed more life. He posted at 20.3 VORP in Double-A, hitting .301/.325/.423 with four homers, and a 25.9 VORP in Triple-A, hitting .287/.331/.404 with six homers. He also had high BABIP each year — .335 and .315, respectively — propping up those numbers.

Looking at his prior seasons as well as his performance thus far in 2015, it’s fair to say Perez has an aggressive approach and shouldn’t be considered a threat for high on-base percentages. Across all levels, he only has a 3 percent walk rate, and he strikes out 21.9 percent of the time. Perez offers at more than half the pitches he sees, which can be seen in his 2015 swing percentage being 56.4 percent. This year, when he sees a strike, he swings 74.2 percent of the time, and he swings at balls 38.7 percent of the time. His contact skills help to make up for his aggressive approach. He makes contact on 74.9 percent of his swings, and his numbers for both in (79.2 percent) and out of the zone (66.7 percent) are respectable.

Some positive signs in his 2015 performance exist. With all his contact, he has lowered his ground-ball rate to 42.5 percent, which would be the lowest mark of his career. He isn’t a traditional speedster, so this isn’t necessarily a negative. It means he’s driving the baseball more often. Perez has pushed his line drive rate up to 18.4 percent and seems to be hitting to all fields, with a distribution of 35.2 percent to left, 35.2 percent to center, and 29.7 percent to right.

Fans who want to buy into Perez’s hot June as more than a BABIP fueled mirage can make a few points for their position. First, as mentioned before, Perez is still young. At 24 years old, one can reasonably consider him to be still be on the upswing on his developmental curve. There may still be untapped value as he gains more experience at the highest level.

Second, if one wanted to look at him following a normal path of development, spending one year at each level, then this should be his first full big-league season. Look at 2013 as his Double-A season and 2014 as his year in Triple-A. Now he has graduated. His previous struggles should perhaps not be held up as true indications of his future value, as he was pushed too aggressively.

Lastly, perhaps the most optimistic viewpoint would be to disregard his previous major-league stats, since his playing time was so sparse and erratic. This year, specifically since he came to Milwaukee, is his first chance at somewhat regular playing time outside of a month in 2013. The uptick in his performance coincidentally came when he left Detroit and played more. Now that Aramis is gone, Perez is slotted into an everyday role. This is Perez’s chance to cast aside small sample size concerns and show that he just needed regular playing time to make positive contributions to a major league team.

Of course, there are concerns moving forward. His free-swinging ways and difficulties handling breaking balls are a bad omen for his second time around the league. If pitchers discover they can pound Perez with offspeed pitches and throw him nothing in the zone, Perez will need to adjust. He hasn’t shown that ability yet. If he can’t adjust, then he’s just a fringy utility player, who is competent enough defensively to hang on as the 25th man of a big-league roster, but no one to plan around. If he can adjust, though, the Brewers may have found something useful on the cheap, and that’s never a bad thing.

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4 comments on “Hernan Perez: Man of the Future?”


One interesting thing, Perez’s was “eye witnessed” in June of 2013. Orlando Arcia was also “eye witnessed” in June and July of 2013. Different ages and different levels, but their grades are exactly the same. Not saying that Perez is Arcia or vice versa, but just that the scouts saw something. Hopefully Perez has a Carlos Gomez like break-through as he ages in the majors.

Andrew Salzman

Hi Corey, nice catch on the Arcia report the same month. As for a potential break-through, I’d not that due to Gomez’s pedigree and defensive prowess, it was easier to keep giving him chances to succeed. I’m unsure whether the Brewers, or another team, would continue putting Perez in the lineup if he falters.

Doreen Salzman

Love the article and that is saying something I don’t like baseball

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