MARION -- The Southern Illinois Miners announced Monday they have signed former major league right-handed pitcher Williams Perez for the upcoming 2018 season, making him the first player with big league experience to sign with the franchise in their 12-year history.
Originally from Ariagua, Venezuela, the 26-year old Perez pitched last year for the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and went 7-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 25 games, 23 of which were starts. A workhorse on the mound, he struck out 102 and walked 51 while surrendering just eight home runs in 120 1/3 innings pitched.
The previous two seasons, Perez was a member of the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation in the major leagues, the culmination of an eight-year stint in the Braves' organization. He comes to Southern Illinois having pitched in 34 big-league games with 31 starts, a 9-9 record and a 5.18 ERA along with 100 strikeouts in 170 1/3 innings.
The veteran righty earned a call-up to "The Show" by posting a 1.16 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2015, striking out 36 and walking 10 in 38 2/3 innings. He then made his major league debut in relief on May 8, 2015, against the Washington Nationals, and made his first big league start 12 days later against the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2014, Perez was named an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star at Double-A Mississippi, going 7-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 games (25 starts), striking out 94 with only 39 walks in 133 innings pitched, and was also a midseason and postseason Southern League All-Star that season. He sports a cumulative minor league resume that includes 141 games with 121 starts, a 3.61 ERA, and 559 strikeouts against 194 walks in 666 1/3 innings. In addition, Perez was teammates in two seasons in the Braves organization with former Miners closer and fellow former Atlanta Braves pitcher Brandon Cunniff.
"Williams will be a tremendous addition to our rotation," Miners manager Mike Pinto said. "His success with winning games at the major league level over two seasons will bring both experience and leadership to our staff. He was a teammate of Brandon Cunniff when he was with the Braves, and Brandon tells me great things about him as a competitor and a teammate. We have always been committed to bringing the very best available talent to the Miners, and this is a continuation of that commitment. We are looking forward to helping him towards his goal of a return to the major leagues while helping the Miners win along the way."