Angels General Manager, Jerry Dipoto, was a very busy man on Wednesday afternoon. Dipoto’s first move of the day was acquiring catcher, Carlos Perez, along with pitcher, Nick Tropeano, from the Houston Astros in exchange for catcher, Hank Conger. Originally signed out of Venezuela in 2008 by the Toronto Blue Jays, Perez lands in Anaheim after a two-year pit stop in the Astros’ system.
Conger is a local product that was beloved in this community. Ryan Ritchey pointed out earlier today how the Angels will miss his ability to frame pitches. Conger had plenty of holes offensively however, and never figured to be the long-term solution behind the plate.
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According to MLB.com Perez is already listed as the 10th best prospect on the Angels’ farm. MLB.com scouting guru, Jonathan Mayo had this to say regarding Perez when Angels beat writer Alden Gonzalez caught up with him earlier today:
"“Defense is his calling card and he has the catch and throw skills to defend in the big leagues right now.”"
Perez’s career 8.61 range factor supports Mayo’s tweet, as does his 33% caught stealing rate. Perez is very athletic behind the plate, combining great footwork with a strong arm.
Perez has struggled to produce offensively over his entire Minor League career. He has spent the majority of the last two seasons playing for the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. In 636 career plate appearances in Triple-A, Perez is batting .264 with 8 home runs and 66 RBI’s. Perez does do a nice job of getting on base with a career .359 OBP. Perhaps his best offensive trait is his ability to make contact. Perez’s bat control has really helped him avoid strikeouts, as he tallied just 93 over his last two seasons with Oklahoma City.
Feb 21, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Carlos Perez (76) poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Adding Perez provides the Angels with some much needed depth at a position of need. Back on October 22nd, the Angels claimed former Colorado Rockies catcher, Jackson Williams off waivers. At the moment, Perez and Jackson represent the only two backstops on the Angels’ 40-man roster behind incumbent, Chris Iannetta.
If the Angels do not add a veteran back up, Perez and Williams figure to battle it out this spring in Tempe for the number two job. I would hazard a guess that Perez is the favorite to handle backup duties in 2015, in large part because of his superb defense.
That being said, it would not surprise me in the least if the Angels go out and sign a veteran catcher to spell Iannetta behind the plate in 2015. John Buck was with the club this past September, so bringing him back could be an option. Look for the Angels to remain vigilant scouring the waiver wire this offseason, possibly even using the Rule-5 draft to acquire more competition at the position. One has to wonder if skipper, Mike Scioscia, would be comfortable entering next season without an experienced backup catcher.
The Angels did a nice job today bringing in some interesting pieces at a fairly reasonable price. Perez is a Major League ready catcher defensively, and if the Angels can help cultivate his offensive skill set, he could be a real steal.