The Tigers have placed Jhonny Peralta on paternity leave, and in his place, they have recalled infielder Hernan Perez from Advanced-A Lakeland. Perez was the only middle infielder on the 40-man roster, other than Ryan Raburn, that was not on the major league roster. Paternity leave generally lasts only two or three days, so the Tigers obviously didn’t want to run a player through waivers to make room for a non roster player to be added.
Perez was signed by the Tigers as a 16-year-old from Aragua, Venezuela, in 2007. He was added to the 40-man roster last November along with outfielder Avisail Garcia, to protect the players from the Rule 5 draft. Perez is a 21-year-old second baseman who is listed at 6-1, bats right, throws right, and is better known for his work with a glove than with a bat. His minor league statistics will bear that out.
After signing with the Tigers, Perez spent the 2008 season playing in the Venezuelan summer league, where he hit .226 with no power. The following season, he was brought stateside and went through the normal progression starting in the Gulf Coast League, then up to Low-A West Michigan, and spent some time in Lakeland that summer as well. He spent the full 2010 season at West Michigan, gradually increasing his average and showing a little bit of power, but maintaining a reputation for excellent glove work, good speed on the bases, but very limited offensive capability at the plate.
Perez steadily improved, posting a still modest line of .258 average, .314 on-base percentage, .364 slugging (for a 677 OPS) with eight homers, 42 RBI, and 23 steals at West Michigan in 2011. He earned midseason and postseason all star recognition in the Midwest League for his efforts, and the Tigers felt there was enough promise there to dedicate a roster spot to protect him. He was promoted to advanced A Lakeland this spring, where he has hit .252/ .284/ .305/.589 with a pair of homers and 11 steals.
Perez does not figure to be in the majors very long during this call up. Just long enough to give Peralta a chance to spend a few days with his family. But the Tigers obviously have Perez on the radar, although I have to add that I can’t see him solving the second base dilemma that the Tigers have faced for the past several seasons.