Signed as an amateur free agent in 2006, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez has become a huge building block for the Royals. The Royals are a legitimate sleeper candidate to overtake the Detroit Tigers as the AL Central champions in 2014, thanks in large part to a few homegrown players. Royals fans are hoping the core of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Perez can take them to great heights.
Perez is a defensive-minded catcher that has hit surprisingly well in his short MLB career. He has a strong arm and a quick release behind the plate made evident by his career caught-stealing percentage of 34 while league average is 26 percent. Perez also shows very good blocking ability behind the plate, helped a ton by his very large frame. The Royals’ catcher ranked fourth among catchers in 2013 with 11 defensive runs saved above average. Welington Castillo, Russell Martin and Yadier Molina were the only catchers better defensively last season.
To go with his strong defense, Perez has shown a good bat in his young career as well. He has a career .301/.331/.451 triple-slash line with a 111 wRC+ in 989 plate appearances. If one were to criticize Perez for anything, it would likely be his inability to draw walks. He has a mere four percent walk rate in his career, but his ability to put the bat on the ball (just a 11.1-percent strikeout rate in his career) makes up for his lack of walks.
As far as complete catchers go, Perez is definitely high on the list. Not very often does a catcher, especially at just 23 years old, have the ability to control a pitching staff, play elite defense and hit for above-average offense. The good thing for the Royals is that he is getting better as each season passes, especially defensively. From 2011 to 2013, Perez had one, nine and 11 defensive runs saved above average, respectively. Also, his fWAR has gone up in each season, but that can be explained simply by the amount of games he has played in. He played in 39 games in 2011, 76 games in 2012 and 138 games last season. If Perez can stay healthy, he will surely play in more than his fair share of All-Star games.