Following Yasmani Grandal’s knee injury in last night’s game, the White Sox decided to call up 25-year-old Carlos Perez from AAA Charlotte. The immediate reaction from those well-known for their minor league coverage was positive on Perez.
So, who is Perez, and what sort of player will the White Sox be getting by bringing him up? Here’s the rundown on the new White Sox backstop.
Perez, 25, is 5’11 and bats right-handed. He was originally signed as a 17-year-old by the White Sox back on March 14, 2014, as an international free agent. Currently, he ranks as the White Sox’ 30th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, which gives him the following grades (though, these have likely changed in recent seasons):
- Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 40
Perez spent his first two seasons with the White Sox in the Dominican Summer League, hitting .323/.400/397 across 78 games in 2014 and 2015. From there, Perez would spend 2016 with three teams: the Arizona White Sox (now-ACL), the Great Falls Voyagers (previous Rookie League affiliate), and the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Low-A). Perez hit a combined .198/.219/.259 across these levels as a 19-year-old; so, his minor league career didn’t get off to the best start.
Perez really started to show noticeable growth in 2019 with the Winston-Salem Dash (High-A). That season, he hit .263/.316/.327 with almost as many walks (24) as strikeouts (26) in 89 games. After losing his 2020 season due to COVID, Perez burst onto the scene in 2021, finally displaying the power he had been lacking in previous seasons. In 2021, primarily with the AA Birmingham Barons, Perez hit .258/.309/.410 with a total of 13 home runs – all coming in Birmingham, which is a difficult place to hit. Perez has spent all of his 2022 season with Charlotte, hitting .259/.317/.448 with another 17 home runs in a more hitter-friendly environment.
Perez has seen the majority of his playing time at catcher, and this season, he has thrown out 28% of potential base runners. In 2021, he was solid once again, throwing out an incredible 42% of runners.
Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about Perez:
“Perez is one of the best receivers in a Chicago system lacking in that category. Though he’s a well-below-average runner, he moves well behind the plate. His pure arm strength grades as fringy but he compensates with a quick transfer and has erased 34 percent of base stealers during his pro career.
A right-handed hitter, Perez might have the best bat-to-ball skills among White Sox farmhands. His focus on making contact cuts into his walk totals and resulted in just seven homers in his first six pro seasons. He has made a more concerted effort to launch pitches in the air to his pull side the past two years and now projects as a double-digit home run threat if he gets regular big league playing time.”
As MLB Pipeline mentions, Perez has always been a pretty strong catcher defensively. He has just four passed balls this entire season, and his highest number in recent seasons was seven passed balls all the way back in 2019. He’s thrown out 23 of 81 base runners this season – though, with the state of the Charlotte Knights’ roster, this is likely just as much on the pitchers as it is on Perez. However, a 28% caught stealing rate is still impressive, as it would be among the best rates among qualified MLB catchers this season.
Perez has always been a contact-first hitter, with incredibly low strikeout (11.5%) and walk (5.8%) rates in his career. This season, his walk rate and strikeout rate are almost the same, with his walk rate at 6.5% and his strikeout rate at an impressive 8.3%. As MLB Pipeline pointed out, this shows some incredible bat-to-ball skills, while the 17 home runs show that he has not sold out for power and has developed it naturally. Perhaps encouraging for the White Sox: his OPS against RHP (.767) and LHP (.762) are almost identical, so Perez is not a platoon hitter by any means.
With Perez getting some at-bats, the White Sox will be hoping that his bat-to-ball skills translate to the highest level, as it will be difficult for them to rely on Seby Zavala exclusively if Grandal happens to be out for the season. In addition, White Sox fans will soon get a chance to gauge his pitch-calling and receiving abilities – though these appear to be well above-average based on reports.
Role with the White Sox
Perez will make his big-league debut as a result of Grandal’s injury, likely serving as the backup to Seby Zavala. However, since joining the White Sox, Tony La Russa has had high praise for Carlos Perez, so there is the possibility that Perez finds his way into a bigger role as the White Sox head toward the end of the regular season. Perez will likely experience the typical rookie struggles, but with Zavala no longer establishing himself offensively, the White Sox can afford to give Perez the extra at-bats, so long as his defense behind the plate isn’t a detriment.
Having to replace a player due to injury is never a fun exercise – especially when that player is one of your highest-paid players on the team. Unless an Elvis Andrus-like situation develops, the White Sox will most likely be solving their catching situation internally. Thus, Carlos Perez will get plenty of time to impress, and we wish him all the best.
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