CREATING HIS OWN STORY
Baseball America|August 2021
The Brewers’ Hedbert Perez may be the son of a Venezuelan baseball icon, but the 18-year-old outfielder is forging his own identity
WALTER VILLA

When former major league outfielder Robert Perez rides his bicycle through the streets of his native Venezuela, he doesn’t get far before he is interrupted.

“It’s like I’m the mayor,” Perez said in Spanish. “Everyone wants to say ‘hello.’ ”

There have been better Venezuelan baseball players than Perez, with Ronald Acuña Jr., Miguel Cabrera and Felix Hernandez being but three prominent examples.

But perhaps no one is more beloved than Perez, who incredibly played 27 years in the Venezuelan League, all of those winters for Lara, before retiring in 2015 at age 45.

His youngest son, Hedbert Perez, may not ever be as popular as his dad, who has a street named after him in Venezuela.

But there is a decent chance that Hedbert, an outfielder who is just 18 years old and one of the Brewers’ top prospects, may one day make a bigger impact on the major leagues than his old man.

“Hedbert has something I didn’t teach him,” Robert Perez said. “He is a natural lefty with a whip swing. The ball jumps off his bat. He was born with that.”

Perez signed for $700,000 in 2019 and was just 17 last year when assigned to Milwaukee’s alternate training site, where he competed against some of the organization’s top prospects, including lefthanders Ethan Small, Antoine Kelly and Aaron Ashby. Perez was the youngest player at the site.

This year, Perez turned heads in spring training. While playing right field, he raced toward the corner before making a diving, backhanded grab.

“Any time a young player gets to appear in a spring training game and makes a play like that in windy conditions, it catches your attention,” Brewers international scouting director Mike Groopman said.

“It was a great moment for Hedbert. Everyone in our front office enjoyed that moment.”

There were other moments in his brief time at major league camp, including the time he struck out on three straight curveballs from the Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer, the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner.

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