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#MLBPlayers411 | Salvador Pérez

   08-24-2017
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Squatting behind the plate and blocking any errant pitch thrown his way, Salvador Pérez fits the mold of a multiple-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner.

He does not, however, look like a child, as his nickname would suggest.

For Players Weekend, which will take place this Friday through Sunday, the Kansas City Royals catcher will sport the nickname “El Niño” on the back of his jersey.

A common misinterpretation, but the backstory behind El Niño does not have to do with the meteorological phenomenon.

According to Pérez, he got the nickname from teammate Eric Hosmer when a group of prospects – including the two of them – were called up to the big league club in 2011. Pérez was the youngest of the call-ups and ‘niño' means young child in Spanish. The nickname has stuck ever since in the clubhouse.

Pérez was signed as a 16-year-old free agent out of Valencia, Venezuela, in Oct. 2006.

El Niño played a large role in breaking the Royals' 28-year playoff drought in 2014. He helped guide the franchise to its second-ever world championship in 2015.

Royals manager Ned Yost – a former catcher – knew he was special, even before he became a mainstay behind the plate for the big-league club.

"The first time I laid eyes on Sal, it took me about two days to realize he was special," Yost told the Associated Press at Spring Training in 2012. "I've been in this game a long time. I've seen hundreds of catchers come through and I've never seen one like him. He's a very, very rare find.

"You can't find a catcher that has his athleticism, his ability to play defense at a high premium on a major league level. You're not going to find a kid who has the ability to swing the bat like he does. And more impressive than anything else is his leadership skills and his ability to call a game. He's the total package."

This season, Pérez is batting .278 with 21 home runs and 66 RBIs. He ranks second in the majors among catchers in home runs and third in RBIs. Since 2015, El Niño's 64 home runs lead the league for catchers.

He became the Royals' everyday catcher in 2013 at age 22, and has been selected to five straight All-Star Games and has won four consecutive Gold Glove awards.

“A lot of guys have strong arms or quick releases,” Royals backup catcher Drew Butera told the Kansas City Star after Pérez won his fourth straight Gold Glove. “He just kind of has the total package, along with deadly accuracy.”

El Niño was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2015 when Kansas City defeated the New York Mets in five games for the team's first world championship since 1985.

"He's a horse," Mets manager Terry Collins told the media during the World Series. "Put up the offensive numbers, when you're catching 150 a year, that's impressive. I mean, I know he's a big, strong guy, but that big body gets beat up.”

“El Niño” and his compañeros will visit Cleveland for Players Weekend. 

To see more photos of El Niño, click here.

To read more #MLBPlayers411, click here

 

@SalvadorPerez15


@salvadorp13