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Climbing the Ladder: Salvador Pérez

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An occasional look at how Royals players debuted at every stop on the way to the Majors

Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays
Salvador Pérez in his Major League debut, nine years ago Monday.
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Monday marked the nine-year anniversary of Salvador Pérez making his Major League debut. On August 11, 2011, Salvy made a splash right away, collecting his first RBI, hit, and two caught base stealers in Tropicana Field.

Let’s rewind ourselves even further and see how Salvy did as he started at each level along the way to the Show.

Arizona League Royals (debut: 2007)

We don’t have game-by-game data for this team as far back as 2007, when Pérez was just 17 and making his professional debut. In 30 games with the AZL Royals, he hit .244/.320/.279, with 10 strikeouts and five walks.

Behind the plate, he threw out 26 attempted base-stealers, and 28 bases were stolen against him.

Burlington Royals (debut June 17, 2008)

Salvy introduced himself the Appalachian League by throwing out two base-runners, and hitting a single and a triple (!).

The starting pitcher for the B-Royals that night was Kelvin Herrera.

Pérez would stay at Burlington for just 13 games total, with a six-week gap due to injury. He hit well at that level, finishing with a batting line of .325/.404/.375 before being moved to Idaho Falls. Eleven runners tried to steal against him, and he threw out seven of them.

Idaho Falls Chukars (debut August 22, 2008)

In an eerie mirror of his Burlington debut, Salvador went 2-4 with a triple (!) when he debuted for Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League. The Ogden opponents did not attempt a steal, which speaks well of their scouting department.

The only other Chukars in that game’s lineup to make it the the Majors were pitcher Blaine Hardy and C/DH Juan Graterol.

It wasn’t until two games later that Salvy would get to show off his arm, when he picked a runner off third base in the middle of an at bat.

Burlington Bees (debut April 9, 2009)

This was a much cooler start for Salvy than previous and future debuts, with no hits in his first two games and a batting line of .122/.143/.146 in the month of April 2009. May and June weren’t much better, and Pérez would ultimately spend the rest of 2009 back in Idaho Falls.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (debut April 8, 2010)

The 2010 season was the first real glimpse into how the future version of Salvador Pérez was going to catch a dramatic majority of games. He caught 85 of Wilmington’s games that year, and mixed in some time at DH.

After an 0-for-3 on Opening Day, Pérez put together a 4-hit night in a game the Blue Rocks would ultimately lose 10-9 on a walk-off home run. The corner infield for Wilmington: Eric Hosmer at first, and Alex Gordon at 3rd.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals (debut April 7, 2011)

Double-A was the first of three levels at which Salvy played in 2011, culminating with the MLB debut you already saw up top. In his first two games with the Naturals, Pérez went hitless but threw out both San Antonio base-runners who tried to steal 2nd against him. The starting pitchers in those games were John Lamb and Chris Dwyer.

The next night, Pérez collected his first two hits at Double-A, with a double and a homer. That was a 14-inning win, with Dallas Keuchel starting for Corpus Christi. The walkoff win came thanks to a single by Wil Myers.

Omaha Storm Chasers (debut July 27, 2011)

Salvy only played in 12 games with Omaha that summer, with all but three in front of the Omaha home crowd. He doubled and picked off a runner at first in his first game - a Storm Chasers win that featured a home run by none other than Salvy’s hermanito, Lorenzo Cain.

Over the dozen games as a Storm Chaser, Pérez hit .333/.347/.500 and threw out four out of 12 base-stealers.

After that, he was called up for that memorable debut in St. Petersburg, and became the Salvador Pérez who would be a six-time All-Star, World Series MVP, and win five Gold Gloves and a pair of Silver Sluggers.