The rosters for the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game were announced on Wednesday, and the Columbus Clippers have two player representatives.
Perez, a 25-year old from Puerto Rico, was originally a 33rd-round draft choice of the Tribe in the 2008 draft. He’s currently hitting a blistering .321/.426/.547 in 194 plate appearances for the Clippers. He’s also added 8 home runs and 40 RBI, despite being 2.1 years younger than the average player in the International League.
According to the Clippers, this is the second All-Star selection for Perez, as he was also named to the 2010 Midwest League All-Star team with Lake County.
2014 has been quite the breakout season for Perez, who hit just .176/.269/.241 with Columbus in 222 plate appearances last season.
But the even bigger story with Perez is his comeback from Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy is a form of paralysis on the face, and it left Perez unable to close his left eye.
He played through the condition through all of last season.
Indians director of minor league development Ross Atkins only recently made the announcement that Perez had been dealing with the condition, saying the following to the Plain Dealer:
He literally could not close his eye for months. He had to put a patch over it to try and sleep. It really affected his ability to see the ball for months. The whole time he was in Columbus, he had Bell’s palsy. He just started getting over it in spring training this year. It was a slow and gradual improvement. You can still see it in his face.
The Indians wanted to put Perez on the disabled list, but he wanted to continue playing.
We left it up to him, but this kid is really tough. He couldn’t blink. He had deal with dryness (in the cornea), fatigue and the mental drain.
With a clean bill of health, Perez is back to doing what he does best: hitting baseballs. He’s having a terrific season with the Clippers, and it’s great for him to be recognized by the International League.
Perez could be a candidate for a late-season promotion to Cleveland, especially if he continues the torrid pace he’s currently on.
In addition to Perez, Aguilar was also named to the All-Star team.
Aguilar, who just celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday, is a first baseman from Venezuela. He has a .278/.376/.491 batting line in 271 plate appearances, with 12 home runs and 41 RBI.
The Indians’ 16th-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, Aguilar has briefly appeared with the Indians in 2014, hitting .188/.300/.188 in 20 plate appearances. He also added 2 RBI, and was the source of many Jesus-inspired tweets by Indians fans (yes, including myself).
After a ridiculous month of April for Aguilar in which he hit .356 with 7 long balls and 16 RBI, Aguilar has cooled off at the plate since. However, he’s maintained a strong batting line, and continues to hit well for the Clippers.
Aguilar hit .275/.349/.427 in 567 plate appearances for Double-A Akron in 2013, with 16 home runs. He also had 105 RBI, which led Indians minor leaguers.
Power has always been a strength of Aguilar’s, and he’ll almost certainly receive another promotion to Cleveland at some point this season.
The 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game will be played in Durham, North Carolina — home to the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls. The game will air live on MLB Network on Wednesday, July 16 at 7:00 pm.