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Written by Mark Firkins Photo by MiLB.com
Batavia NY. Birthplace of the NY-PENN league. A short season, summer, A baseball league where many of the game’s youngest talent get their first taste of professional baseball. The place where Matt Carpenter, Carlos Carrasco, Lance Lynn and many other fine players honed their craft on the road to the majors. Sam Perez, a pitcher in the Miami Marlins organization, hopes to add his name to that list of graduates of this league and one day make it to the show as well.
Perez brought an impressive resume with him from Missouri State University. In 2015 as a junior, he pitched out of the Bears bullpen, posting a 9-1 record with a 3.31 ERA in 27 relief appearances and struck out 62 in 68 innings of work. As a senior in 2016, he finished his collegiate career with a perfect 8-0 record, striking out 112, logging 91 ⅓ innings and a school record of 36 relief appearances.
Drafted in the 5th round out of Missouri State in 2016, Sam was assigned to Batavia that summer. In his first season with the Muckdogs Sam split time between a starting and relief role. In 16 games he pitched 48 innings, striking out 36, and an admirable 3.54 ERA.
In 2017 Perez briefly climbed the minor league ladder, starting the season for the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League. He pitched 33 innings of relief over 17 appearances. Sam posted an uncharacteristic 6.21 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Maybe it was the higher caliber of hitters he faced, perhaps a mechanics or delivery issue, or imaginably the earlier start to the season.
He was reassigned to Batavia in June and the trip back to Western NY was just what the doctor ordered. Sam returned to his split role of starter and reliever and pitched his way to an impressive season. The NY-PENN league is a 75 game season that runs from late June to Labor Day. Perez appeared in 31 of those games, starting in 14 and relief in 17. He logged 77 ⅓ innings, posted a 4-2 record, 53 strikeouts, and an impressive 2.21 ERA. He was honored by being named to the NY-PENN League All Star Game.
In his first two professional seasons, Perez’s style was to pound the strike zone low with his fastball. A two seam fastball with movement that averages in the low 90’s but can hit the radar gun at 95 on occasion. He compliments that fastball with a curve and change that keeps opposing hitters off balance and can make knees buckle.
Given his ability to eat innings and pitch in high leverage situations, Sam should have a bright future with the Marlins. In 2018, Perez could potentially see a full season at higher A baseball and one that should also define his role going forward. Conceivably, he is one of the next Muckdogs alumni to add his name to the Batavia Wall of Fame.