From Maturín to Atlanta: José Gabriel Perdomo, the child prodigy of Venezuelan baseball

José Gabriel Perdomo in one of his practice sessions in the United States, after being selected to go to Oklahoma among the 32 best players in North American. Photo: Courtesy

 

The dream of every child who starts playing sports from an early age is to become an outstanding athlete. In baseball, many little ones long to reach the Major Leagues, and Venezuela in this sense has become an exporter of talent.

Jefferson Civira || lapatilla.com correspondent

José Gabriel Perdomo, at only 17 years old, has achieved what few have achieved: being a prospect to sign a contract with the Atlanta Braves for five million dollars, the second highest amount for a player in the history of this country.

Coming from the ‘La Florida’ sector in ‘La Murallita’ of the city of Maturín, Monagas State, the young baseball player remembers that when he was two years old, his parents bought him little cars, and instead of playing with them, he used them as balls hitting them with soda containers. His parents noticed José Gabriel’s interest and began to buy him baseball equipment with which he practiced.

When he was three years old, he began playing on the ‘Guafuco’ minor baseball team in ‘Las Comunales’ stadium in the ‘Alto de Los Godos’ parish, where his father served as coach. He was there until he stopped playing in the ‘Los Criollitos de Venezuela’ minor league when he was 11 years old.

The young shortstop does not hesitate to affirm that he was inspired by shortstop Juniel Querecuto, a player for the Lara Cardinals, and Puerto Rican Carlos Correa, who played for the Houston Astros and today plays for the Minnesota Twins team.

When asked about his physical condition and training that impressed the scouts who signed him, José Gabriel asserts that this has been a very intense learning process, “but thank God the results have been achieved with a lot of effort and work day after day.”

The day he signed with the Atlanta Braves, a date he says he won’t forget for the rest of his life. Photo: Courtesy

 

What have been the recommendations that have been made to you and what should you work on to improve?

I’ve been told to keep working hard and stay very focused on what I’m doing. The good thing about it is that I am very mature and I am constantly aware of everything I do and what I don’t.

At your young age, which player have you been compared to?

With big leaguer Gleyber Torres (Venezuelan who plays for the New York Yankees).

How many hours a day do you invest in your training and what is your biggest dream?

Every day I train five hours or sometimes a little less, it depends on the routine I have set. My biggest dream is to be a Venezuelan in the Great Hall of Fame and carry the Venezuelan flag to the highest level.

What were the games like in the (little league)bteam where you started, what position did you play and how did you balance school with playing?

I just liked to hit. At that young age, being 3 years old, I didn’t like to field but only bat and run. I have always played the shortstop position. Thank God I went to school in the morning until 11:45 am and at 2:00 pm my father and mother took me to the communal (stadium) to train and play.

 

In the middle of the game held at the 4pro vs Swing Player academy in the city of Valencia, Carabobo State. Photo: Courtesy

 

What do you think are your greatest strengths on the playing field?

My greatest strength is batting. The offense and also defense due to arm strength.

Who would you like to play with in Venezuela?

I would like to debut with ‘Los Cardenales’ de Lara. In fact, there have been offers with this team and also with the ‘Navegantes del Magallanes’.

Who do you thank for what you have achieved at your young age?

Firstly, to God, my mom, my dad, and my entire family for giving me their support and being there for me on good days and bad days. Also to Yasser Méndez, who is the head of the “4pro Academy”.

 

In a photo session, days before signing with the Atlanta Braves. Photo: Courtesy

 

What was that process like when they signed you up?

I was the most valuable player in ‘Los Criollitos’ of Monagas State little league in 2018, and I gave the opening speech on the inauguration and then Manuel Márquez took a photo and sent it to the head of the academy and they sent some scouts who were in Valencia to watch me play. They saw me (play) in Maturín, and they gave me an opportunity. We went to Valencia and they were impressed by my talent.

I went to Medellín, then the Dominican Republic, then I arrived in the United States. There were many months and years of hard work, focus, discipline, humility and, thank God, we reached an agreement in 2020 with the Atlanta Braves organization. It wasn’t easy at all, because I had to separate from my family for two and a half years, but God knew how to reward us.

It has always been said that in Monagas the biggest fans are for soccer and, therefore, young people who dream of being professional players go for that sport. Do you think there is talent for baseball in this state?

Of course there is! In Monagas there is talent for baseball. If I could achieve it, those children who dream of being in the big leagues (Mayor League Baseball) will also be able to with a lot of every day work and trusting God, who does not keep anyone’s sweat.

Do you think that, like soccer, baseball should be promoted in Monagas with more spaces for this sport? For example, by recovering abandoned stadiums?

Yes, of course yes! It (Monagas) deserves to be given more spaces for baseball, because those children who today dream of being great in life deserve it. The only thing missing is better support and help to achieve their dreams and goals.

Many Venezuelan players have played in the Major Leagues. What do you think is the reason why our country exports so many talented players?

It’s all about work and discipline, you always have to do everything possible to leave the Venezuelan flag at the top throughout the world.

 

In one of the many practices that he carried out at the ‘Las Comunales de Maturín’ stadium. Photo: Courtesy

 

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, what was it like to spend those two years away from your family, the months of confinement, the fear of getting sick?

It really was something very hard to spend those years away from my family, but not impossible either. The good thing was that I was tough-minded and told Yasser Méndez that I was not going to Venezuela without first fulfilling my dream, and that was the case. Thank God that what I set out to do was achieved and then I went back to Venezuela happy.

In the middle of the pandemic I was not thinking about getting sick, I only had in mind to work hard and give everything for a great future and that of my family, because with God everything will always be fine. The good thing was that I always had communication with my family, I always called my mother, as well as my father, every day and I also distracted myself by playing video games.

What are those values that you thank your parents for that allowed you to get to where you are now?

I really thank them for many things, without their support or God’s help, none of this would have been a reality. They made me a very humble and kind-hearted boy, and I will always be grateful for that, because they made me a great person.

What message do you send to those children who are preparing in the academies and dream of being a big leaguer?

The message I can give to all those children who are in the different baseball academies throughout the country is to always work hard, be persistent and have a lot of discipline. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t, because if you prepare to be great, you will achieve it with God’s favor. Above all, that they have an “extra work”, that is what makes the player great.

What are the limits to achieving what you propose?

I always say that the only limit is the sky, really. If someone sets out to do something, he will achieve it with great faith.