PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 05: Eury Perez #55 of the Washington Nationals looks on from the dugout before a preseason game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park on March 5, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
• 21-year-old outfielder Eury Perez didn't play this afternoon in the Washington Nationals' loss to the New York Yankees, so the 6'0'', 180lb Dominican-born right-handed-hitting and throwing base-stealing threat ended his second Spring Training with the Nats with Wednesday night's 0 for 4 performance at the plate against the Atlanta Braves. The Nationals announced this afternoon that Perez was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg where he'll start the 2012 season after a 2011 campaign in which the fifth-year pro, signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, had a .283/.319/.321 line with nine doubles, two triples, one home run and 45 stolen bases in 60 attempts in 119 games and 465 at bats for High-A Potomac.
Perez was placed on the 40-Man Roster earlier this winter, with a press release on the decision to protect the outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft pointing to the his, "109 stolen bases over the last two seasons," and his, ".303 batting average with 43 doubles, 15 triples, 11 home runs, 165 RBI and 168 stolen bases during his five-year professional career." D.C. GM Mike Rizzo mentioned Perez this winter as one of three center fielders in the Nats' system who could one day potentially play center field in the nation's capital. "Eury Perez, Michael Taylor [and Brian] Goodwin," Rizzo said, "We feel all [three] have a real good chance of being that every day type of player for us, but that's down the road."
Last Spring, Perez appeared in five games in which he was 1 for 4 at the plate. The young outfielder wasn't around for long, but he did manage to collect six hits in 18 at bats this Spring, with a walk and 3 K's in eight games. And Perez did manage to leave a lasting impression in Wednesday night's game, showing off his arm while throwing a runner (the Braves' Drew Sutton) out as he was trying to advance from second to third on a fly to right in the bottom of the seventh of what was then a 4-3 game with Atlanta ahead.
The other three moves the Nationals announced this afternoon: RHP Yunesky Maya was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse after 4.0 IP this Spring in which he gave up three hits, two walks and two earned runs, and right-handers Jeff Fulchino and Waldis Joaquin were re-assigned to Minor League camp. The moves leave the Nationals with 41 players in big league camp. Fulchino, 32, signed as a free agent with the Nats this past December. The veteran of five MLB seasons threw just 4.0 innings this Spring, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out three. Joaquin, 25, struck out three and allowed three hits and one run in 3.0 IP. The Nationals who remain in the big league camp take on the Yankees again tomorrow at 1:05 pm EDT with Gio Gonzalez on the mound for Washington on the road.