Hedbert Perez Stays Busy During Pandemic
Outfielder Hedbert Perez has been in the Brewers’ organization for more than a year and a half, but he has yet to play his first professional game.
Still, he keeps popping up in interesting places.
When the minor league season was canceled in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, the Brewers didn’t hesitate to assign the multi-talented 17-year-old to their alternate training site in Appleton, Wis. Never mind that he was the youngest player in any 60-man player pool.
The Brewers then sent Perez to instructional league, where he showcased a blend of athleticism, skills and beyond-his-years instincts.
In other words, he made it easy to see why Milwaukee went hard after the son of former major league outfielder Robert Perez, signing him out of Venezuela for $700,000 in July 2019.
But the Brewers weren’t done pushing Perez. He was included in a group of 15 prospects taking part in a minor league mini-camp that ran concurrently with the opening of major league spring training. The organization’s decision-makers thought it would be the perfect opportunity for prospects to see how big leaguers prepare for a season while absorbing more instruction in the process.
“It’s great. I think we should be excited for these players,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, “but they’re very young players . . . And these guys, because of the way camp is structured, you may see these guys in a big league spring training game."
The lefthanded-hitting Perez has put on 20 pounds of muscle since signing and is up to 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. That added strength has been apparent when facing live pitching, even in a camp setting, with Perez projecting to have above-average raw power to go with his plus speed and defensive prowess in center.
Now, the Brewers must decide where Perez will make his pro debut.
Despite his youth, Perez’s unique experiences over the past year might tempt an assignment to Low-A Carolina.
— Shortstop Freddy Zamora, 22, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee at Miami before the Brewers drafted him in the second round in 2020, participated in early minor league mini-camp.
— Lefthander Antoine Kelly, a 2019 second-rounder who impressed at the alternate site and then instructional league, also was a mini-camp participant as the Brewers did their best to provide as much development as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.