The Orioles have signed reliever Héctor Pérez to a minor league contract, according to the team’s transactions tracker at MLB.com. He has been assigned to the team’s Florida complex but will presumably head to a high minors affiliate after building into game shape.
Pérez, 26 next month, has just one major league appearance under his belt. That came with the Blue Jays in 2020, when he tossed 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees. The 6’3″ righty isn’t all that far removed from being one of the better pitching prospects in the Astros’ farm system, though. He topped out as Houston’s #7 prospect heading into the 2018 season, according to Baseball America, and slotted among the Astros’ and Jays’ top 30 minor leaguers each season between 2017-19.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Pérez has been involved in a pair of trades during his career. Houston packaged him alongside Ken Giles and David Paulino for Roberto Osuna at the 2018 deadline. After a couple seasons in the upper minors with Toronto — and the aforementioned lone big league outing — the Jays shipped him to the Reds in January 2021 for a player to be named later (eventually announced as minor league outfielder Darlin Guzman).
Pérez didn’t make an MLB appearance with Cincinnati. He split the most recent campaign between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, struggling at both stops. Overall, he posted a 6.16 ERA in 38 innings, striking out a serviceable 24.9% of opposing hitters but fighting extreme control issues. Pérez walked 24.4% of batters faced, and the Reds designated him for assignment in June. He cleared outright waivers and qualified for minor league free agency at the end of the season once Cincinnati opted not to add him back to the 40-man roster.
During his time as a prospect, Pérez was praised for a fastball that reached the mid-upper 90s and a promising splitter. He’ll try to more effectively harness that arsenal and emerge as a relief option for the O’s. Baltimore’s bullpen has been solid thus far, placing 15th in ERA (3.52), 22nd in strikeout/walk rate differential (12.8 percentage points) and leading the majors with a 48.2% ground-ball percentage.