The Royals of 2012 will be young. With veterans sprinkled throughout the roster the Royals will be able to find their club house leader. But who will step up and be the leader on the field. That responsibility could be placed on the shoulders of up and coming catcher Salvador Perez.
One of the biggest surprises of the 2011 season was not only the call up but the success of young catching prospect. A player who by all accounts has shown in the past that defensively he has what it takes to be a premiere catcher for a long time in the Major Leagues. But his offense was lacking. Lacking is the only attribute that cannot describe the short season that Perez had last year. He showed that he had the ability to drive the ball to all fields, which at such a young age is nothing but positive. Yes it was a small sample size, but let’s look at what could have been in Perez had played a full season.
Seeing that he would have had around 500 at-bats in a full season here is what his stat sheet would have consisted of in 2011.
Slugging Percentage: .470
If this were true, saying that he overachieved would have been an understatement. Now although this would be wonderful production from behind the plate, Perez cannot be expected to put up these kinds of numbers for a full season. He will digress, but his intangibles are what make him such a great commodity to have on this year’s ball club.
His knowledge of the game and how to handle his pitchers will be crucial if the Royals want to make a run for the division title in 2012. Knowing what pitches to call, when to call them, and when to take a little risk with his battery mate.
Defensively, he just has to stay consistent. One problem with players today is if they have a little trouble at the plate their defense will show their frustrations. But a leader has to be able to forget when things are not going his way with the bat and just play the game. This will be the biggest test for Perez in 2012 because he will surely go through the growing pains of any young player. His response to adversity is what will put him on a “captain of the team” like pedestal.
With all this being said here are some projections for the Royal’s young Venezuelan catcher in the 2012 season.
Slugging Percentage: .443
If Perez can produce these kinds of numbers at the plate, add in his stellar defense behind the plate, and step into the leadership role in the 2012 season the Royals could have a truly valuable piece to their puzzle for future success in Kansas City.