What a difference a change of scenery can make.
Following eight years in the Diamondbacks organization, Rossmel Perez signed a Minor League deal with the Reds during the offseason. He's excelled at Double-A Pensacola, with Saturday marking the latest example of his success this season.
In a road game against the Mobile BayBears, his team of the prior two seasons, Perez fell a triple short of the cycle as the Blue Wahoos rallied for an 8-5, 11-inning win. The 24-year-old catcher blasted a two-run homer in the final frame that gave his new club some welcome insurance.
"It was really cool for me," Perez said, "especially when I see those guys from last year, and they were like, 'Oh, my God, how are you hitting so good?' I'm like, 'No, man, it's just the opportunity to play more.' When they give me the opportunity to play more, I'm showing what I have."
After he was retired in his first two at-bats, Perez lined a single to right field in the seventh, stole his first base of the year and scored. He grounded into a forceout in the eighth before turning it on during bonus baseball.
Perez led off the 10th with a double and, after Steve Selsky's go-ahead two-bagger an inning later, padded Pensacola's lead by going deep with one man on.
"I was really happy when I hit the ball," Perez said. "I know when I hit the ball, it was going to go out. So I was really happy to get those runs for my team and win.
"It was really exciting because we had a long game, so when I hit that ball, it was like, 'Yeah, this game is going to be over, finally.'"
The Venezuela native is growing more and more accustomed to being one of Pensacola's biggest offensive contributors. He's hit safely in 10 straight games, a stretch in which he's batting .474 (18-for-38) with 14 RBIs. Six of those RBIs came in Friday's 14-13 win over the BayBears.
"He's been hitting good all year," Blue Wahoos hitting coach Alex Pelaez said. "He became the starter about six, eight weeks ago. He got in a groove and ... he started to learn his swing and is not trying to do too much and learning himself.
"He's not a power hitter, he's not trying. He's just happened to hit a couple home runs the last couple games. He puts the ball in play and good things are happening."
Through 37 games this year, Perez is hitting .341/.381/.457 with two homers and 22 RBIs. In 74 games with Mobile last year, he batted .245/.315/.287 with two homers and 28 RBIs.
It must be difficult for the BayBears -- and D-backs -- not too notice the way he's broken out.
"I wasn't playing that much last year," Perez said. "I've been given the opportunity to play more this year, so I'm trying to do the best I can."
Devin Lohman also hit a two-run homer for Pensacola, a game-tying shot in the ninth. Carlos Contreras (2-1) recorded the win after allowing a hit and a walk over three scoreless innings, finishing with five strikeouts.
For Mobile, Willy Paredes and Jimmie Sherfy each blew save opportunities and Steve Rodriguez (0-1) surrendered three runs in the 11th.