April 6, 2011
A Royal Diamond in the Rough
When I attended scout school with the Kansas City Royals back in the fall of 2008, we were given a final project after spending a few days in camp with the team's instructional league players. The assignment was to select one member of the Royals, other than Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer, who we thought could become a solid everyday major-league player on a first-division club and prepare a full scouting report that would convince management of his future potential.
Many of the players in Arizona that September weren't quite as popular as they are today. In addition to Moustakas and Hosmer, Tim Melville, Jarrod Dyson, and Derrick Robinson were all in attendance. David Lough and Johnny Giavotella were there as well.
It wasn't easy finding the right player. We had to put ourselves in the shoes of a scout and spend the better part of the week shadowing the kid. That meant we had to watch him hit, run, throw, eat, and sleep. OK, maybe not sleep, but we had to find out as much as we could about the player. We spoke with his teammates, coaches, and trainers—anyone who could provide even the slightest bit of information was a valuable resource.
After giving Giavotella a fair amount of consideration, I decided the subject of my report would be an 18-year-old non-drafted free-agent catcher from Venezuela named Salvador Perez.
Since I met Perez, he's become much more of a household name, especially among Royals fans. In 2009, he was awarded the organization's best defensive player. In 2010, he finished eighth in the league in batting average and made the Carolina League All-Star team. Baseball America named Perez the "Best Defensive Catcher” in the organization entering the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons.
More recently, Perez was named Kansas City's 20th-best prospect by Kevin Goldstein and participated in the Royals Futures Game this past Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Even members of the Royals brass have spoken out publicly about the progress of the soon-to-be 21-year-old catcher.
Salvador Perez has certainly come a long way since I first laid eyes on him. That's not to say I didn't think highly of the teenage version of the future Royals backstop. In fact, I might have been more impressed by Perez than some members of the scouting department. There was a real concern around camp that he would eventually outgrow the catcher position.
With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that Perez has developed into a legitimate catching prospect. With all the hype surrounding Kansas City prospects these days, I thought it might be interesting to go back into my notes, revisit my scout school final report, and share my thoughts and grades on Perez from two and half years before he became the starting catcher in the Royals Futures Game.
Below is my 2008 scouting report of Salvador Perez. How did I do?
(All numerical grades are based on major-league level ability)
Hitting Ability: Present - 35, Future - 55; Comment: Solid line-drive contact hitter
Physical Description: Big frame, long arms and large hands. Imposing size but surprisingly agile. Will need to remain diligent about training, but he's an extremely hard worker. Other catchers, such as Sandy Alomar Jr., have been bigger and successful.
Strengths: Already a strong average defensive catcher. Above-average arm and drives the ball with authority. Currently has gap power that will develop into home-run power with maturity. Smart kid and makeup is off the charts. Graduated from high school with honors and is bilingual. Strong leadership skills and his teammates love him (and his cooking!).
Summation: Very solid future starting catcher at the major-league level. I love this guy!... from his body and leadership qualities to his strong arm, plate blocking ability, and power bat potential. Some may be scared away by his body growth, but Salvador cares too much about the game, his teammates, and his own body to let himself go. This is a rare player who will make a difference for the Kansas City Royals.