Left-hander Luis Perez is somewhat of a folk hero in the hearts of Toronto Blue Jays fans. Undoubtedly, those same fans will look to the 30-year-old reliever to compete for a bullpen spot again, with the Blue Jays securing a return engagement Perez for the 2015 season, as per Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
Perez was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization ever since signing with the team out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. After making his Major League debut in 2011, and struggling to a 5.12 ERA and a 1.554 WHIP, Perez opened some eyes in 2012 when he became an intregral part of the bullpen during the season’s first half. In 35 appearances that season, the lefty put up 3.43 ERA, a 3.52 FIP, and a solid 8.4 K/9 ratio, not allowing an earned run until his ninth appearance.
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Unfortunately, that season ended for him on July 8th, when during an appearance against the Chicago White Sox, Luis Perez tore the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his pitching elbow. The injury required Tommy John surgery and Perez was forced to miss the rest of 2012 and didn’t make his return to the Blue Jays until September of 2013.
The Blue Jays released Perez at the end of Spring Training in 2014. He would latch on with the Atlanta Braves, but remained on the disabled list for the entire 2014 season. The Blue Jays will give him a look this spring, as the team has a relative open door right now on relief help. However, as another lefty he’s likely destined to begin the season in Buffalo and serve as roster depth unless he wows the coaching staff in Dunedin.
Also receiving a minor league deal from the Blue Jays is Surrey, British Columbia native John Stephens, as first reported by Alexis Brudnicki of the Canadian Baseball Network.
Not much is available in terms of information on Stephens. We know he’s an outfielder and has played in the British Columbia Premier Baseball League. Brudnicki divulges a bit more information on Stephens, who apparently is a scouting find Jays scout Mel Didier.
It’ll be interesting to see where he gets his start this season, but the Blue Jays have had some success unearthing some forgotten players in the past. Just last season, Toronto plucked outfielder Roemen Fields from a mail route in Seattle, Washington. He went on to set the single-season stolen base record for the Vancouver Canadians last season, his first year in professional baseball.