Today the Angels announced that catching prospect Carlos Perez would be called up from Triple-A Salt Lake and join the team to begin their nine game home stand starting tonight. To make room for Perez on the roster, fellow catcher Drew Butera was designated for assignment. Butera now has the option to elect free agency or be sent to Triple-A.
Perez was acquired alongside Nick Tropeano in a trade with the Houston Astros this offseason that saw Hank Conger go to Houston in return. That trade looked pretty good as soon as it happened but if Perez becomes the full time backup from now on, it could be a serious steal. Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto was quoted as saying that after he acquired Perez, the majority of trade calls he received included his new catching prospect. That’s a serious testament to Perez’s reputation as a backstop.
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It was only a matter of time before Perez was recalled as he’s been firing on all cylinders this year in the minors. In 79 plate appearances for the Bees, Perez hit .361/.418/.556 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. Plate discipline has always been a strength for Perez and it carried over to this year as well as he walked 7 times while striking out just 7 times as well.
Defensively, Perez is regarded to be masterful and to prove it he threw out an impressive 37% of would be base stealers this year. This fact alone is what likely made the Angels comfortable with letting Butera go, as his one dimension playing style can be nearly replicated with Perez.
Back in Anaheim, Angels starting catcher Chris Iannetta may find himself on the hot seat with this move. Iannetta has recorded an incredibly poor .315 OPS in 70 plate appearances this year and seems to be stuck in a funk. He’s struck out in nearly a third of his trips to the plate and only has one extra base hit thus far. We can expect Iannetta to turn it around at the plate sooner or later based on his .150 BABIP (batting avg. on balls in play) as the league average BABIP is close to .290 but nevertheless he could begin losing starts to Perez if he doesn’t get it together quickly.
If you were wondering why Perez didn’t start the year with the Angels in the first place, it could be a matter of service time. Similar to Kris Bryant, by holding Perez in the minors for the first few weeks of the season, they will control him for the rest of this year and six more seasons, contingent on Perez staying on the major league roster the entire year. Perhaps this was all in Dipoto’s grand scheme of things.
Chris Iannetta is slated to start tonight but don’t be surprised to see Carlos Perez take catching duties for tomorrow’s game.