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Yohannis Perez: puff piece worth reading

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Tom H checks in with a really nice effort about Cuban defector Yohannis Perez. Perez has made some nice plays in big-league camp, and seems like he could take over as a utility infielder in 2008.  I don't have a very good read on his hitting skills, but I guess that's what this season is for.

What amazes me more than anything else is what these guys go through to defect.  Perez had to try twice, after failing the first time:

Fearing more Coast Guard interference, the freedom-seekers this time headed for Mexico. With no navigation tools, they weren't sure exactly where their landing point might be.

"We thought it would be safer in Mexico but I didn't know if we were going in the right direction," said Perez. "You could see no land. I got a little scared because we were in the middle of the ocean."

Four days later, by sheer luck as much as anything, the defectors came ashore near the Mexican resort city of Cancun. Perez immediately made plans to head for Miami to resume his baseball training and hopefully attract the attention of major league scouts. He legally established residency in the Dominican Republic in April 2006 so that he could be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball (players from the Dominican are signed, not drafted).

There are a lot of politics that cloud the issue, of course, but that doesn't take anything away from the guts it requires to escape your country that way.

The whole thing is worth reading.  I hope that, by this time next year, Perez is putting the Brewers in a tough spot, forcing the brass to choose between him and Hardy.  It's way too early to work out all of the implications of that, but of all the guys in the minor league system who aren't named Gallardo, I'll be rooting for Perez.