Detroit Tigers Top 30 Prospects for 2024: #16 Wenceel Perez

The Detroit Tigers took a chance on Wenceel Perez, years ago, and now he's pushing forward on his Road to Detroit. Where will he end up long-term?
Erie SeaWolves second baseman Wenceel Perez, left, takes the throw as Portland Sea Dogs baserunner
Erie SeaWolves second baseman Wenceel Perez, left, takes the throw as Portland Sea Dogs baserunner / GREG WOHLFORD/ERIE TIMES-NEWS / USA

Next up on our Motor City Bengals Top 30 prospect is one of the more intriguing prospects in the system, whose role and long-term future still have questions, in the switch-hitting Wenceel Perez.

Since Perez showed up at West Michigan in 2018, you can pretty much track his growth by the number of times I've watched Wenceel play. Fast-forward to 2024, and he's nailed a spot on the 40-man roster. He started as this slim, smooth-swinging shortstop known for hitting liners and having a sharp eye at the plate. Now, at 5-foot-11, he's filled out and is knocking the ball with power and hitting consistently well, at least when he's not sidelined.

Like Parker Meadows in 2022, Perez's bat emerged at the right time, but a back injury kept him out the rest of the 2022 season, and as a result, he missed the start of the 2023 season as he continued to get work done on his back.

He returned and picked up where he left off at Erie, where he saw time in the outfield for the first time and showed the ability to handle the glove. It was a move out of necessity as his struggles of making the simple plays at second continued.

Perez wrapped up the season with Toledo, batting .264/.394/.496 and earning a 124 wRC+. He maintained a solid 16.9% walk rate compared to an 18.1% strikeout rate. He really shines hitting right-handed, where he knocked all nine of his homers in 2023, with a batting line of .301/.408/.467. He sat out the first two weeks of September, then came back to play the last four games of the season. Although it wasn't officially mentioned, his time off might have been due to that back injury he's been dealing with.

Like Eddys Leonard and Justyn-Henry Malloy, Perez has got the skills to hit but finding him a spot on the field is the real puzzle. The Tigers have a bunch of these types, so the big question, assuming he's fit, is where do you slot him in? He's definitely got a talented bat, but this year is crucial. With Detroit's prospect scene getting pretty packed, it's now or never for him to make his mark.