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Carlos Pérez strikes out just 8 percent of the time, making him the toughest player with 200 plate appearances to fan in the International League. But what gives him such a nice upside is that he is also really good at connecting with pitches in the strike zone, with his team-leading 57 percent in-zone hit rate.
“His bat-to-ball skills are tremendous,” hitting coach Chris Johnson said about the Knights’ catcher. “He is so good at putting the barrel of the bat on the baseball.”
Pérez tops the Knights with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs. He also has 22 walks and a miniscule 28 strikeouts in 338 plate appearances. He carries a slash line of .266/.323/.459.
The Knights are pushing Perez this season, getting him behind the plate often so that he is comfortable with the grind of regular major-league catching. So far, he’s been behind the dish in 62 games of 105 Knights’ contests. (He has also DHed 18 times.)
That may not sound like much, but catching four days a week in upper-90s heat is grueling, and his stats reflected as much as the first half of the season wound down. ut after four days off at the All-Star break, he is looking more like his old self. And that’s good, because he is next man up with the trade of Reese McGuire.
Knights’ Plate Discipline
Despite the temptations of such a hitter-friendly ballpark, the Knights are a fairly disciplined team at the plate. In terms of total strikeouts on the season, the Knights have the fifth-fewest in the International League, and only two behind fourth-place Memphis.
At the end of day, Johnson said, it boils down to in-zone swings, chase rates and exit velos.
“That’s what we look at,” he said. “When guys are throwing strikes, are you hitting it hard, making contact and putting it in play? That’s the biggest thing. Other than that, are we taking balls. When you really dumb down hitting, that’s what it is about. We want guys to hit the ball hard, and hit the ball a lot.”
Peering over the latest set of Knights’ hitting stats after BP earlier this week, Johnson said it is the same group of guys — Payton, Haseley, Perez, Sosa, Rutherford and Remillard — who lead the team in in-zone swings that also chase the fewest pitches outside the zone.
I asked Johnson when does he decide to step in and work with a guy about his approach at the plate. It turns out that it is more art than science.
“If a guy is going good and has a couple of games when he’s chasing, I try not to bombard him,” Johnson explained. “This game is so up and down, you’re going to go through ruts. But if we hit a bad series and I start to see something that I think is causing it, then I’ll say, hey, let’s change this.
“But most of time, when you’re talking about in-zone contact and chase rate, that’s all approach,” he said. “It has nothing to do with swing mechanics. So that is a conversation of, hey, what are you thinking about? What are you trying to do? That’s probably what’s causing the bad chase rate.”
- Romy Gonzalez homered in his return to Triple-A, going 1-for-4 with a K.
- Jake Burger was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Carlos Pérez, 0-for-3 with a walk. He was also picked off/caught stealing.
- Adam Haseley was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and an HBP.
- Yolbert Sánchez went 2-for-3 with a stolen base.
- José Rodríguez went 0-for-5 with a K, but stole his 39th base.
- Oscar Colás was 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Yoelqui Céspedes went 0-for-4 with a K.
- Matthew Thompson: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 46 of 68 pitches for strikes.
- Colson Montgomery went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Bryan Ramos went 1-for-4 with a walk, but was picked off.
- Luis Mieses, 3-for-5 with a double.
- Adam Hackenberg was 1-for-4 with a homer and two strikeouts.
- Wes Kath went 1-for-4 with a homer and a strikeout
- DJ Gladney, 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Wilfred Veras, 0-for-4 with a K.
ACL Padres 2, ACL White Sox 1 (7 innings)
- Brooks Baldwin went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Jordan Sprinkle, 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and an HBP.
- Jacob Burke went 1-for-2 with a walk.
- Victor Quezada, 0-for-3 with a K.
- Manuel Guariman doubled and struck out twice.
- Cam Butler struck out all three trips.
DSL White Sox 5, DSL D-backs Red 2 (7 innings)
- Ryan Burrowes was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Erick Hernandez went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.
- Loidel Chapelli went 1-for-3 with a triple.
- Carlos Jimenez singled, walked and struck out.
- Ronny Hernandeez was 0-for-3.