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Perez with the Cleveland Indians
|Born: May 15, 1982|
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
|April 20, 2006, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Earned run average||3.64|
Rafael Jerome Pérez (born May 15, 1982) is a left-handed professional baseball relief pitcher who is currently a free agent. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians as an undrafted free agent in January 2002 and played with them through 2012. He currently lives in Freeport, New York, on Long Island.
In 2002, Pérez finished second in the Dominican Summer League with a 0.96 ERA. In 2003, he was named Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year playing for the Single-A Burlington Indians and led the Appalachian League in wins (9-3) and ERA (1.70).In 2005, his 12 wins tied for 3rd in Indians organization and he had a 2.62 ERA in 29 combined appearances (22 starts) for Kinston and Akron. He was added to the Indians 40-man roster in November. In 2006, Pérez had a 2.81 ERA in 12 starts with Akron and a 2.63 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Triple-A Buffalo.
Pérez was not expected to be a major part of the Indians' major league club in 2007, but he surprised the Indians organization after he was called up from the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, on May 28. Pérez was initially slated for long relief, but after he demonstrated his ability to pitch in tight situations, he was inserted into a setup role alongside right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt. The two setup men were nicknamed Raffy Left and Raffy Right by local Indians fans. Pérez, with his hard fastball and tight slider, quickly became one of the most dominant relievers in the league. In 2007, Pérez posted a sparkling 1.78 ERA, over 602⁄3 innings pitched in 44 appearances. He had a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of only .923, and held left-handed batters to just a .145 batting average. ESPN analyst Peter Gammons called him "arguably the best left-handed reliever on the planet."
On February 14, 2013, Pérez signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins. He was released on May 17 after appearing in only four games for the Rochester Red Wings and signed with the Boston Red Sox organization on May 23. With the AA Portland Sea Dogs, he pitched in 25 games and was 2-2 with a 2.64 ERA.
He signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers on January 18, 2014 but only appeared in four games for the Round Rock Express before he was released on April 17. He spent the next few months in the Mexican League with the Rojos del Águila de Veracruz where he was 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 games, including 8 starts. He signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 12, 2014 and pitched for the AAA Indianapolis Indians where he was 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 10 games (another 8 starts).