Player: Fernando Perez
Born: April 23rd, 1983 (Currently 31 years old)
Positions: LF, CF, RF, and DH
Drafted: On June 7th, 2004 in the 7th round (#195) by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays out of Columbia University in New York, NY
Start of Tenure: See Above
End of Tenure: On January 8th, 2011 was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with Matt Garza and Zac Rosscup in exchange for Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, and Sam Fuld
Teams: Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Rays, *Chicago Cubs, and the *New York Mets
* - Didn't play in a MLB game
Currently: An analyst for MLB.com
MiLB Stat Line: Slashed .273/.356/.378 with 828 Hits, 33 HR, 252 RBI, and 245 SB in 816 games.
Rays Stat Line: Slashed .234/.301/.351 with 22 Hits, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 SB, and 0.3 rWAR in 41 games.
Quick Ivy Leaguer
Touted as one of the fastest players in the 2004 draft, Fernando Perez was drafted in the 7th round by the Devil Rays and later signed on June 16th. The Devil Rays assigned their new speedy outfielder to short-season Hudson Valley. Although Perez didn't do too much with the bat, he still stole 24 bases in 69 games, he also slashed .232/.314/.322 with 2 HR and 20 RBI.
In 2005, Perez was assigned to Single-A Southwest Michigan. This year though, Perez had a solid bat slashing .289/.361/.406 to along with 6 HR, 48 RBI, and 57 stolen bases in 134 games. For his performance, Perez was rewarded with numerous ranking honors.
Rankings by Baseball America:
- 13th best prospect in Tampa Bay's system
- Best defensive OF and fastest baserunner in Tampa Bay's system
- Best and fastest baserunner in the Midwest League
After his impressive 2005 season, Perez was assigned to Class-A Advanced Visalia. There, Perez had a better year then the previous season. In 133 games, Perez slashed .307/.398/.397 with 4 HR, 56 RBI, and 33 stolen bases, while also adding switch hitting to his tool set. Even though Perez's numbers were better, his prospect status decreased as he was ranked 15th in the Devil Rays' system after the season concluded. He was also named the best defensive outfielder and fastest baserunner in the Tampa Bay organization for the 2nd year in a row.
While at Columbia University, Perez excelled at creative writing. At the beginning of the 2007 season, Perez was chosen along with 3 other minor leaguers (Ricky Romero, Jose Tabata, and Donnie Veal) to keep a journal of the upcoming year. You can read the complete archive from each player, here.
Perez once again improved his numbers in 2007. In 102 games, he slashed .308/.423/.481 with 8 HR, 33 RBI, and 32 stolen bases. Despite his solid season, Perez's prospect status, once again decreased as he was ranked 25th by Baseball America. The reason though for this was probably that Perez missed a month of the season, as he suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee. Perez was also again ranked for the 3rd year in a row as the best defensive outfielder and also named the fastest baserunner in the organization.
Perez was inching closer and closer to the major leagues. After an offseason where the team went through a transformation. The newly-shortened Rays assigned Perez to Triple-A Durham. Where he again turned in another solid season where he slashed .288/.361/.393 with 5 HR, 36 RBI, and 43 stolen bases en route to being named the Tampa Bay Rays minor league player of the year.
On August 31st, as rosters were set to expand, Perez was called up to the big leagues to assist the Rays in their chances to reach their first ever playoffs. He made his MLB debut on September 5th, 2008 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
In the top of the 7th, after Dioner Navarro had just singled off of Roy Halladay, Joe Maddon called upon the speedy Perez to pinch run for the catcher. Perez advanced to 3rd on a Gabe Gross double and dashed home on a Jason Bartlett infield single to score his first major league run.
Perez's first at bat came in the 9th, with the Rays trailing 6-3 against Toronto's closer, B.J. Ryan. The count reached 2-1 when Perez bunted a ball up the first base line. Lyle Overbay was playing back and had to charge in on the ball. By the time he reached it, Perez was closing in on the bag. Overbay gloved it and quickly swiped for Perez, but he slid away from the the tag and reached first base safely for a bunt single, his first career hit. Perez came around to score on a Jason Bartlett double, but the Rays would lose 6-4.
A few days later, after Dan Johnson hit potentially the biggest home run in franchise history to tie a game in Boston, Fernando Perez came up big and doubled with only 1 out. Dioner Navarro followed Perez with a double of his own to bring him around to score and give the Rays a 5-4 lead. They'd go on to win the game, and maintain their lead over Boston in the AL East.
On September 14th, Perez launched his first career HR. It came with the Rays trailing 4-0 in the top of the 2nd inning at Yankee Stadium against Carl Pavano. It was a 3-run shot that made it a 1 run game, but the Rays would eventually lose the game, 8-4.
Perez finished the regular season having played in 23 games and slashed .250/.348/.433 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. When the regular season ended, the Rays were off to play in their first ever playoff series and Perez was one of 2 September call-ups (David Price) selected to be on the playoff roster.
Baseball's Biggest Stage
Perez made his postseason debut on October 3rd, as Tampa Bay's starting right fielder in game 2 of the ALDS against the Chicago White Sox. Perez chopped a ball through the left side of the infield for a base hit in his 1st at-bat but would go hit less after that.
His next appearance was a bit more intense. The Rays had defeated the White Sox and were now facing Boston in the ALCS. Game 2 of the series was a slugfest, and Perez finally got into the game in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied at 8.
Dioner Navarro led off the inning with a walk, and Perez was once again called upon to pinch run for him. Three batters later, Perez found himself on 3rd with the bases loaded, only 1 out, and B.J. Upton at the plate. With the count 0-2, Upton lifted a short fly ball near the right field line. Perez camped at 3rd, anticipating for the ball to be caught. J.D. Drew rushed over to the line and camped underneath the ball. The moment the ball landed in his glove, Perez took off, Drew hurries and threw a dart to home, but Perez slid around Varitek at home and scored to give the Rays a thrilling 9-8 win and tied the series at 1.
Perez would only appear in 3 more games during the 2008 postseason, including Game 5 of the World Series in Philadelphia. The Rays were losing, 4-3 heading into the top of the 9th inning. The Rays were also behind, 3 games to 1, so this was a must win game.
Perez was once again called upon to pinch run for Navarro in the top of the 9th inning with 1 out. Perez immediately stole 2nd and was only 2 bases away from tying the game. Ben Zobrist was up, and he hit a hard line drive but it was to Jayson Werth in right. Eric Hinske was the Rays last hope, but he'd strand Perez on 2nd as he struck out to end the series, making the Phillies the champions.
Following the year, after a successful stint in the majors, Perez was named the Rays 14th best prospect by Baseball America.
Lost Season + Decline
Heading into the 2009 season, Perez looked prime to compete for the starting right field job for the Rays. Sadly, on March 10th, during a spring training game, Perez dislocated his left wrist. It would require surgery, which was done on the 21st and sidelined Perez all the way until August. Perez went through the rehabilitation and was activated when rosters expanded. In 18 games for the Rays though, Perez only slashed .206/.206/.206 (not a typo). He had 7 singles in 34 at bats, and worked 0 walks. Even with the lost season, and poor line, Baseball America still named Perez the 15th best prospect for the Rays.
In October, Perez underwent surgery again to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder but he was expected to be ready by spring training.
In 2010, Perez arrived trying to compete for a spot on the opening day roster, but on March 17th, Perez was reassigned to minor league camp. Perez spent the entire year at Durham and in 116 games, he slashed .223/.280/.299 with 4 HR, 32 RBI, and 24 stolen bases.
Hanging Them Up
On January 8th, 2011 Perez was a minor part a franchise altering deal for the Rays. The Rays traded Matt Garza, Zac Rosscup, and Perez to the Chicago Cubs for Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, and Hak-Ju Lee.
Perez failed to make the Cubs roster and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa, where he failed to produce and was released after 76 games on July 8th. Ten days later on the 18th, Perez signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets, but again produced measly numbers and became a free agent after the season ended.
Perez was unable to find any suitors during the offseason and took the 2012 season off, and in 2013 he played in the independent Atlantic League for the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Lancaster Barnstormers. Perez knew he was on the downside of his career and decided to call it quits in 2014. Recently, Perez signed on with mlb.com to be an analyst for them.