Still just 22 years old, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez has made quite an impression over the past two seasons. Yes, injury cost him the opening of the 2012 campaign, but in parts of two seasons he has now amassed 437 AB, the equivalent of a full season for many starting catchers. Over that time, there are two things that should have opened our eyes:
- When healthy Perez is capable of being a rare everyday catcher
- The statistics overall (.311, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 58 R)
He is a big man, listed at 6'3" and 245 pounds, and you can tell he is just starting to scratch the surface of his power potential. His 11 HR last season came courtesy of a realistic 13.1 percent HR/FB, a number that could easily continue to improve (as could his 31.7 percent fly ball rate).
While it’s not a given, seeing him eclipse 20 HR in 2013 should be considered a very realistic possibility.
Then you have the average, where he has the potential to push Joe Mauer as the games elite among catchers. First, all you have to do is look at his line drive rates from the portions of his first two seasons:
2011: 29.2 percent
2012: 24.2 percent
Yes, it is easy to label 2011 as inflated, but he has proven that he can hit the ball with authority on a consistent basis. Now, couple that with the ability to consistently make contact and you have a perennial .300-plus threat. Over his first two seasons Perez has posted a 10.2 percent strikeout rate. Over his minor league career he whiffed 139 times in 1,278 AB, so there is no reason to think that he can’t maintain it.
So, you have a .300 hitter with 20 HR potential? How many of those are really available behind the plate?
In 2010 there was one (Victor Martinez)
In 2011 there was one (Mike Napoli)
In 2012 there were two (Buster Posey and Yadier Molina)
That’s four players over the past three years and on two occasions (Molina and Napoli), it was completely unexpected. In other words, the potential for Perez to reach these types of plateaus alone make him a potential top-five catching option.
Now, throw in the potential to drive in runs as part of a Royals offense that should improve dramatically and there is an awful lot to like. Granted, he’s not going to score a boatload of runs, given his lack of speed, but how many catchers really do?
So how exactly do his numbers stack up for 2013? Here’s the projection:
.305 (168-550), 24 HR, 55 RBI, 70 R, 0 SB, .304 BABIP, .338 OBP, .495 SLG
Perez has a ton working in his favor at this point (even if his power falls short of our projected mark), especially since many others in your league will not value him quite as highly. There is no reason to overdraft a catcher, when the value is there with Perez later in the draft.
What are your thoughts of Perez? Do you think he can reach these projections in 2013? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections: