Speedy Perez collects first big league hit

Speedy Perez collects first big league hit

MIAMI -- They know he can run. Yefri Perez has game-changing speed, which he's shown on several occasions with four stolen bases in his 10 big league games.

On Tuesday night, in the Marlins' 12-1 loss to the Mets at Marlins Park, Perez also gave a glimpse of how he can bat, and the 25-year-old collected his first big league hit, an opposite-field single off Fernando Salas in the eighth inning.

The Marlins didn't have much to cheer about in a blowout loss that puts them on the brink of being mathematically eliminated from National League Wild Card contention. But in terms of looking toward the future, Perez is highly valued by the organization.

"I'm really happy for Yefri, he's going to be a special one," manager Don Mattingly said. "Such a good kid. He works extremely hard, and he's come so far in a year. This kid was in the instructional league last year. He's just coming. He's a guy who can run."

In Perez, the Marlins envision a super-utility player, similar to former Marlins Emilio Bonifacio and Alfredo Amezaga.

"When we look into the future, he's a guy who is a Bonifacio type or an Amezaga, guys who have been in here who can play infield and outfield," Mattingly said. "Big speed component, but you feel it's on the rise. Yefri is a guy we're excited about."

Perez spent much of the season at Double-A Jacksonville. He was initially promoted to the big leagues as the 26th man for one game when the Marlins faced the Braves at Fort Bragg on July 3. Then, in late July, he suffered a left thumb injury that required surgery.

Perez batted .259 with 39 steals in 84 games at Jacksonville. The Marlins called him up in September, knowing he would only be able to pinch-run, initially, because he was unable to play defense or hit due to his thumb.

A switch-hitter, Perez began swinging the bat from the left side over the past two weeks. A few days ago, he started from the right. Once the game got out of hand on Tuesday, he played shortstop and got his second big league at-bat.

"It's a moment I'll never forget." Perez said. "My first big league hit. I'm so excited."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.