There has always been a lot of talk about the potential of outfielder Eury Perez. Last season, for the first time, Nationals fans finally got to see him play in the big leagues.
Perez, ranked as No. 7 on Baseball America's list of 10 top Nationals prospects, played in 13 games in September, going 1-for-5 (.200) with three stolen bases and three runs. It was a small sample size, and now Perez will have a shot to try to grab one of the utility slots in the Nationals outfield in spring training as the team puts together its 2013 25-man roster.
This is an important season for Perez, especially with the acquisition of Denard Span from the Twins and Brian Goodwin racing up to Double-A Harrisburg last season. Goodwin has even surpassed Perez to No. 3 on this list.
Perez showed very well in a pair of high-profile level stops in the Nationals system in 2012, with 82 games in Harrisburg and 40 with Triple-A Syracuse.
Including five games for the Gulf Coast Nationals, Perez hit .314 in 127 games with 167 hits, 19 doubles, three triples, 42 RBIs and 51 stolen bases. He got his on-base percentage to .373 while at Syracuse.
Perez is still only 22, and will not turn 23 until two months into next season. He still is highly regarded.
Perez has been able to hit in the system, but coaches, scouts and others saw him make his biggest jump in focus, determination and maturity.
Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt said Perez has done a nice job of gaining that experience and becoming a better ballplayer with each game.
"I heard from conversations with people they knew there was a maturation issue with him," Fitt said. "He is still a pretty young guy for a guy who has just reached the big leagues. And he figured it out. They got what they wanted to get done with his approach."
Fitt said Perez has made significant strides on his awareness on offense and defense and how much he values each plate appearance. Now Fitt would like to see Perez hang in there longer with each at-bat.
"They still want him to be more patient," Fitt said. "He still has table-setter skills with one exception: He doesn't work the count as much as I would like to see. But with his speed and his contact ability, he has got the chance to be a pretty dynamic player if he can just be a little more patient, I think."