Andres Perez celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday by taking some of his friends from Pinecrest Academy to the Braves game. While the game was going on, Andres was getting up periodically to escape the heat and answer “happy birthday” texts and tweets as they flooded in.
Then something changed.
In the middle of the contest, while Andres was cooling down in a back room, he received a tweet from an account called Braves Farm Updates that read: “Congratulations on being a Braves draftee.”
Perez' heart skipped a few beats, but he managed to find a few more notifications mentioning his name—not his father's—and Braves in the same sentence.
Andres, the son of former Braves player and current first base coach Eddie, was picked in the 36th round (selection 1,069). The selection was not only better late than never, but still a shock to the 6-foot-6 catcher who has dreamed his entire life of being a Brave. He even caught at Pinecrest with former catcher Brian McCann's old glove.
The irony was that he was a fan in the stands when his name was called—wearing his father's jersey—so containing his excitement and not making a scene was his first intention.
“There was plenty of screaming,” Perez laughed. “Luckily we were in a back room so nobody really heard it, but it was just so exciting.
“I immediately texted my Mom to let her know, then I obviously wanted to tell my Dad but he was down on the field. So, I went down and knocked on the clubhouse door hoping I could get someone to let him know. They said they would try their best, but I had to wait and kept waiting, so I went back up to the stands.
“After that in the middle of the game my Dad made eye contact with me. I was tugging on my jersey to kind of convey it to him, and he looked back and gave me a nod. That's when I knew he knew.”
Perez arguably had a down year at Pinecrest in his senior season but was a hot hitter in the team's five-game win streak to end the season. Pinecrest head coach Ryan Weingart wasn't expecting Perez to get selected, so he was on a fishing boat Saturday afternoon when his phone rang.
“I just got a text that said, 'Coach, I'm a Brave,’” Weingart said. “He's actually the first Pinecrest player to be drafted, and he's always been such a huge part of the Pinecrest family, so for him to get this type of moment is very special and well deserved.”
Perez will decide in the coming days whether or not he'll sign with the Braves and enter the organization’s minor league system or head to North Georgia for at least three years as a Nighthawk. No other players in Forsyth County were drafted this year.