Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Getting to Know Astros/Grizzlies RHP Tyson Perez

Following his promotion to Corpus Christi last season on May 30, 2014, RHP Tyson Perez has arguably been the most consistent reliever in the Astros system. In 51 appearances since that 2014 promotion, Perez has compiled a 1.98 ERA and a 0.880 WHIP with 16 saves in 63.2 innings of work. Perez started his 2015 season with Corpus Christi, but was promoted to Fresno after only three appearances. In 2015, he has a 1.80 ERA and a 0.680 WHIP in 21 appearances to date.

Tyson Perez - May 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

I asked Perez what clicked for him that has caused him to excel so consistently since that 2014 promotion. He said, "I think it was all about confidence. When I went to Corpus, you had [former Manager Keith] Bodie there and [Pitching Coach] Doug Brocail. Broc helped me so much. He basically told me every day, 'Why don't you believe that you're good? Because your stuff's so good.' And then it just took me a little while to actually believe and get the confidence that I used to have. I think I kind of lost it there for a little bit. And you can't play this game without confidence. Confidence is the main thing that you need. So working with (Brocail) every day, I literally took it day by day and did everything I could do for that day and when tomorrow came, I'd worry about tomorrow. I think that helps a lot and that's how you've got to play this game. This game is tough. You play a lot of games and a lot of days and you've just got to take it day by day and get the best you can out of that day."

Perez's pitch repertoire consists of fastball, cutter, and curveball, but as he told me, "You're always working on stuff in this game. You're learning every day. I've been working on a little bit of a changeup, kind of a split change ... some other look for lefties. I throw the cutter a lot to lefties in and I throw the curveball off that, but to have something to use kind of going down and away from them will be a lot of help, especially when you get up to these levels. These hitters are so good. In the big leagues, they have just as much scouting report on us as we have on them. So you've got to be able to throw all your pitches wherever you want and execute."

When I asked Fresno Pitching Coach Ace Adams what Perez needed to work on, he told me, "He doesn't need to work on a lot. He's been outstanding for us. If we didn't have him, we'd be really hurting. Right now, all he needs is getting more confidence and believe that he can pitch in the big leagues. That's all he needs to work on right now. He's done a great job. Without him, I don't know where we would be. When he came here, our bullpen was in disarray and he's really done an unbelievable job. He's been a great, great addition."

Perez is more of a pitch-to-contact guy than a strikeout guy as evidenced by the game I watched him pitch in recently in which he retired the side on seven pitches, including a strikeout. "In my mind, I try to get he guy out on three pitches or less. If he's still there after three pitches, then I have to strike him out. You can't get in those 2-1 counts, 3-1 counts, 3-2 counts because that's where these guys hurt you. I'm not up there throwing 96, 97. I've got to work with what I've got and I've got to get them out as fast as I can and if everything goes together, then I should be able to get them out," said Perez.

When I spoke with Doug Brocail last season about Perez, I mentioned the somewhat goofy persona that Perez sometimes hides behind. Brocail assured me that there was a bullpen leader behind that persona and that, when it was time to work, Perez was all business. Of this assessment, Perez said, "You've got to have fun in this game, especially when you're with a group of guys you're with so much every day and everyone's fun and everyone's a good guy, but when it's time to take care of business, everyone's out there taking care of business."

Perez is originally from nearby Hanford, California, having grown up around ranching and rodeos (see this October 2012 interview for more about that) and was drafted out of Fresno City College in 2011 so Fresno is more or less home to him. Perez said, "My parents are about an hour away. I get to see them a lot. They try to come to every game so they've been here almost every time so that's really great to see them."

I know that Perez is enjoying the time spent on his home turf, but I don't think he would mind getting a little homesick by spending some time in, say, Houston. It is my sincerest hope that he will get that opportunity sooner rather than later.

Perez - May 2015

Thank you for your time, Tyson, and best of luck as the season continues to unfold!


Other recent interviews:
1B Jon Singleton
LHP Bryan Radziewski
1B A.J. Reed
RHP Joe Musgrove
3B J.D. Davis
LHP Albert Minnis
SS Carlos Correa

You can find more on virtually every player in the Astros minor league system in the 2015 Houston Farm System Handbook available on Amazon for download to your kindle, iPad, laptop, desktop or smart phone.

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