Carlos Beltrán, Aníbal Sánchez, Clay Buchholz, Johnny Damon, Zack Greinke, Jed Lowrie, Eric Hosmer, Mike Sweeney. All above-average players. Most of them All-Stars. All have one thing in common: At some point in their careers, they were among the more than 100 major leaguers to have played for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Class A Kansas City Royals affiliate in Delaware’s largest city.
Is it something in the water? Is it the same power that controls the mind-bending hair of Delawarean and Vice President Joe Biden? Could it have something to do with the fact that a vegetable named Mr. Celery comes out and dances whenever the home team scores a run? Whatever it is, that same force also helped along Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who hit .290 for the Rocks in 2010 and later had his own bobblehead handed out as a promotion (I think it was the day before Cowboy Monkey Rodeo Night, but I’m not sure).
Anyway, why should we even be looking at Sal as a bounce back candidate? I mean damn, last year he hit .292 with 13 dongs and 79 RBI. He also lined 25 doubles and stretched out three triples. Not too shabby for a catcher! What the hell else do you want, you ingrate?! Why am I yelling at myself again? Well, Perez is a bounce back candidate because I expect more. I’ve expected more since he became the apple of my waiver-wire-trolling eye after he was first called up to the bigs in 2011. I knew nothing about him at the time, except that I loved his big frame and long arms a little more than I should have. And I expect more because the scouts did when Perez was with the Blue Rocks. The knock on Sal in the bigs, if there is one, is that he’s been more of a gap hitter than a power hitter. So why not reach for the top-shelf option for a catcher of his ilk – Yadier Molina – instead of settling for Sal and his lack of RBI opportunities on the Royals?
Because in 2011, the scouts were saying that while the then-20-year-old Perez was more of a gap hitter, his power would increase over time as he matured and got stronger. I think that time is now. In my various fantasy drafts, Perez has been my second target at catcher after Carlos Santana, and that’s only because Carlos has 1B eligibility and maybe even 3B eligibility if the Indians follow through on playing him at the hot corner. Somehow I don’t get close to landing Brian McCann, who is another solid bounce back guy for 2014. I want nothing to do with drafting Buster Posey too early, I’m not sold on Joe Mauer, and Molina bores the hell out of me. Seriously, I would rather watch an entire season of “True Blood” with a college Goth club than have Molina as my backstop.
Sal and McCann are the best catcher values out there. Draft one of those guys, and if they suck or get hurt, pick up another dude and hope for the best. Punting on catcher is fun!
I think Perez tops 20 bombs this season and gets somewhere in the neighborhood of .290/25/90 with 30-plus doubles.