A lot of hype has surrounded Kansas City Royals youngsters like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas,Tim Collins and Mike Montgomery. Some, like Hosmer, Collins and Moustakas, have shown potential at the Major League level. Others, like Montgomery, are only potential at this point. However, one key player that is often overlooked is Salvador Perez, the 22-year-old starting catcher.
Last season, Perez hit .301/.328/.471 with 11 homers and 39 RBI in 76 games. Perez, listed at 6-3, 230 pounds, is a big guy behind the plate but he has shown good agility behind the plate and is learning to call a good game. He has a fantastic arm that he used to pick off eight runners last season and throw out 42 percent of would-be base stealers. The eight runners picked off were a team record for catchers and he did that in only 76 games.
At the plate, Perez is an aggressive swinger who makes solid, consistent contact and has the ability to drive balls to the gaps with authority. He should blossom into a 20-home run threat perhaps as early as this year. The starting job is his and he has all of the tools to become a potential All-Star behind the plate.
Of all of the Royals prospects and young players it might be Perez who has the greatest impact this season, if he can stay healthy. If he can improve his game-calling, something a veteran pitcher like James Shields might help with, he could be the best catcher the Royals have had in two decades if he isn’t there already. If Perez, Hosmer, and Moustakas develop as hoped for and the young pitchers live up to their hype the Royals could be thinking playoffs in a few years.