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.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
MAKING AN IMPRESSION
Four draft classes that caught our attention for their upside potential
Whether hitting or pitching, Jackson Jobe does things on the field that few have seen
KIRBY'S DREAM WORLD
George Kirby has as much helium as any prospect in baseball. Along with Emerson Hancock, he headlines a wave of power pitchers making their way to Seattle.
UP TO SPEED?
Quality of play in the full-season minor leagues had suffered from the lost 2020 season
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Baseball’s golden age of young talent takes center stage at the All-Star Game
Vanderbilt’s dynamic duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are the first teammates to win our College Player and Freshman of the Year awards in the same season
FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Chris Lemonis earned a reputation as a recruiter, but after winning a national title at Mississippi State, he will be remembered as a champion
CREATING HIS OWN STORY
The Brewers’ Hedbert Perez may be the son of a Venezuelan baseball icon, but the 18-year-old outfielder is forging his own identity
COMING TO FRUITION
Brooks Lee blossoms into a top draft prospect under his father’s tutelage at Cal Poly
CATCHING ON QUICK
Emerging young catchers Gabriel Moreno and Francisco Alvarez were gaining helium in prospect circles for their immense offensive upside
Caracas – A City Unravels
The cultural spaces and infrastructure of Venezuela’s capital were once the envy of Latin America. Decades of decline have taken their toll
LATEST IN BUSINESS : INDUSTRY LEADER
LATEST IN BUSINESS : INDUSTRY LEADER
SAVING THE WORLD
In Zelle We Trust
In Venezuela, money transfer services are enabling what may be the world’s first digital dollarization
The Mercenary Influencer
A former Green Beret and prolific Instagrammer signed a contract to, essentially, heist a whole country and turn it over to a new government. The results were embarrassing
FOOD OUT OF THIN AIR
Finnish food-tech company, Solar Foods, has developed a revolutionary natural protein source that could be the solution to global hunger problem.
Venezuela's Maduro Bucks The Tide
Embracing capitalism and the dollar, the embattled president lures émigrés home
The Dollar Is Conquering Venezuela
The country is awash in semi-illicit greenbacks that threaten to spark a crime wave
A 3,100-Acre Fixer-Upper
Waterfront Brownfield w/ Rail, Port, ~Near Highway!~ *Bonus* Proximity to 1/3 of US Population! $72 million (Baltimore County)
El Petro, Or What We Can Learn From Venezuela's Doomed Crypto-Petrocurrency
Shakespeare tells us, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.