The Nationals were able to sign center fielder Denard Span to be their leadoff hitter and complete their 2013 lineup. One player who got some time with the big club late in 2012 and could also someday fill that role for the Nationals is Eury Perez.
The Dominican continued to play well in winter ball, as high Single-A Potomac Nationals manager Brian Daubach said here.
Perez did get a call-up late last season during the Nationals' clinching month. With the Nationals, Perez played in 13 games, went 1-for-5, scored three runs and had three stolen bases.
In the minors last season, Perez hit a combined .314 with 22 extra base hits, 51 stolen bases, 42 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage.
Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley is excited to see what Perez can do this year as he continues to prove he can make it to the next level. With Beasley, Perez made it look easy.
"It was like he was just playing a game," Beasley said. "It was almost like a video game. He came to Triple-A and never skipped a beat. He hit well over .300 and did it easily. He played with a lot of grace. This kid is still learning the game as well, but what an exciting player to watch on defense and on offense."
Perez did a nice job of improving his steal percentage from Double-A Harrisburg to Syracuse. With the Senators, Perez's steal percentage was an impressive .722 (26-for-36). With the Chiefs, Perez went up to .800 (20-for-25).
"When he is running the bases, you think he is going to steal second and then steal third," Beasley said. "He is the type of player that, if you don't watch, he will steal home."
Beasley is confident Perez has the all-around ability to be the top man in the order for the Nats. But if that is not available, Perez can play a significant utility role, a speed guy off the bench with a good on-base percentage. That was a weakness for the Nationals' second unit for a while, with most of their bench stocked with power bats.
"He just has tremendous upside of what he could be," Beasley said. "He could turn into an unbelievable leadoff hitter for us or whatever we need him to be. Defensively, he can go get it. He has a real good arm. He is solid all the way around."
With only 40 games last season at Syracuse, this year will be a good opportunity for the youngster to show what he can do over an entire season. He's a long shot to break camp with the Nats.
"It is going to be fun to have him again and see what he can do. He loves to play. He is still a young guy, only 22-years old. I am really looking forward to it," Beasley said.