Wenceel Perez didn't have to wait long to make an impact in the Midwest League.
The Tigers infield prospect went 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in his first game with Class A West Michigan, which balnked Lansing, 5-0, on Friday at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Video: Whitecaps' Perez collects four knocks in team debut
"I saw him in Spring Training my first year," West Michigan hitting coach Mariano Duncan said. "I saw in his first few games and I really liked what I saw in him. When I saw he got promoted, I was like, 'Well, let me see what this kid can do at the plate.' So far, so good -- he went to the plate four times and got good, quality at-bats. That kid, he's only 18 years old and the way he handled that game today, I am very excited for him."
After hitting .250 over 80 at-bats with Class A Short Season Connecticut, Perez moved up to the Whitecaps and immediately took advantage of the opportunity.
Having seen Perez in Florida, the performance was on par with Duncan's expectations.
"I'm not surprised," the former Major League infielder said. "Anyone who has a uniform on has an opportunity to go out there and perform the way that he performed. Today, I talked to him about giving the signs and what he's supposed to do. He walked to the cages and got some good work and swung the bat well. I think he brought that to the plate today."
Gameday box score
In his first at-bat, Perez lined a single to right field on a fastball from starter Donnie Sellers (6-3) in the first inning and came around to score on a base hit by Jordan Pearce. Two innings later, he sent another line drive to right for a single, then made it hits in three straight at-bats when he went the opposite way to left to score Anthony Pereira in the fifth. He was caught stealing to end the inning.
The switch-hitter singled to left again in the eighth and scored on a base hit by Dylan Rosa to extend the Whitecaps' lead to 5-0.
It was the fourth time this season Perez has had at least four hits in a game. The native of the Dominican Republic went 5-for-7 with four RBIs and four runs scored in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League on July 10 and followed that with a 4-for-4 performance the next day. He also had a four-hit game for Connecticut on July 28.
Perez showed the ability to hit to all fields, which was almost as good as getting the hits themselves, according to Duncan.
"When you see a left-handed hitter at the time use the whole field, they're showing to you what they can do," he said. "His first two at-bats, he went to right field and then the last two, he went to left. Anytime a left-handed hitter goes to the opposite field with the authority that he did today, he impressed me ... with how he swung the bat."
Whitecaps leadoff man Reece Hampton also made his Midwest League debut and chipped in two hits and a run scored.
Wilkel Hernandez (2-5) picked up the win, limiting the Lugnuts to two hits and three walks while striking out six over six innings. Ethan DeCaster, an 18th-round pick in this year's Draft, yielded two hits and fanned three the rest of the way for his first Midwest League save.