Fifth starter candidate: Martin Perez

Editor's note: This is an occasional series of blogs looking at some of the candidates for the fifth starter spot on for the Texas Rangers in 2013.

Today's candidate: Martin Perez

SURPRISE, Ariz. – It’s easy to forget that Martin Perez is only 21 years old. He’s been on the radar so long as one of the club’s top pitching prospects that it seems like he should be in his mid-20s.

But Perez knows now is the time to show what he can do. He got a taste of the big leagues in 2012 and wants to prove he can compete consistently at the top level.

“This is a big year for me,” Perez said. “I have more opportunity now. They told me they have one spot and there’s a group to compete for that. They told me throw my stuff and see what happens.”

Perez said 2012 was an important year for him. He started in Triple-A and struggled with his command from the start.

“I felt like I was crazy in my mind,” Perez said. “It’s a crazy game. I struggled, and after that I made an adjustment and every day I got better and they called me up.”

Perez said the club made it clear to him that he was coming up to help fill a hole, but that it wasn’t his year for full-time work in the big leagues. But that was 2012. This is a different year.

“I learned a lot from last year,” Perez said. “I talked with the manager and thanked him for trusting me. He said, ‘You can do it. Just throw your stuff and do what you need to do to get better.' ”

Perez ended up 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA in 12 games (six starts) for the Rangers in 2012 as part of a group that filled in for the injured Colby Lewis. He pitched 38 innings in the big leagues and had 25 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Perez was 7-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) with 69 strikeouts and 56 walks at Round Rock.

“I’m working on my mechanics and I feel good about it,” Perez said. “I have to throw strikes and do my thing. That’s what I’m going to do.”