- Position: SS
- Born: 6/15/2000
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 176 lbs.
The Yankees did quite well with its July 2 signings in 2016, which included the then 16 year-old Peraza. The Venezuelan shortstop came aboard for $175,000, along with other notable prospects like Roansy Contreras, Jose Devers, and Yoendrys Gomez. Keep in mind that the Bombers were limited to $300,000 bonuses that year following the spending spree a season prior. Contreras and Devers were pieces in the Jameson Taillon and Giancarlo Stanton deals, respectively. Gomez and Peraza remain as top prospects in the Yankees system. Pretty great haul considering the limitations.
The Story So Far
Peraza made his professional debut in 2017 in the Dominican Summer League, but quickly moved stateside after 10 games. He finished the year with the Gulf Coast League Yankees was named Baseball America’s 14th-best prospect in the GCL in 2017. At the time, BA lauded his bat-to-ball skills, athleticism, and baseball IQ, though lamented his lack of strength. Peraza batted .266/.363/.332 (109 wRC+), swiped 12 bags in 14 attempts, and struck out in just 16.9 percent of his 213 plate appearances on the Gulf. Pretty easy to see that the power just wasn’t there based on the slugging percentage, but the other numbers were respectable.
Peraza remained in rookie ball in 2018, albeit with the now-defunct Pulaski Yankees. The young shortstop had a bit of a rough go at the level: .250/.333/.321 (81 wRC+), which although not too far off from his GCL performance, Peraza’s strikeout rate ballooned to 25.8 percent.
2019 was Peraza’s breakout season, even if the numbers don’t appear particularly impressive. He split time between Staten Island and Charleston, giving him his first taste of a full season league. He showed a little more power (4 homers in 293 PA after just 1 in 417 PA in years prior) and put his contact skills on display (12.6 percent K-rate). In sum, Peraza hit .263/.332/.340 (103 wRC+) between the two levels and received more plaudits from BA. The publication ranked him the 14th-best prospect in the New York-Penn League and also added him to the Yankees’ Top 30 (17th).
Peraza likely would have returned to Charleston in 2020 had a minor league season occurred. He may have even finished the campaign at High-A Tampa. Before the pandemic, he did get a taste of big league spring training and logged four plate appearances in the Grapefruit League. He spent the summer at home in Venezuela before getting a cup of tea in the Venezuelan Winter League. In spite of a year of lost development in the minors, the Yankees added Peraza to the 40-man roster in the offseason.
There’s a consensus on Peraza’s potential to be a plus-defender at shortstop, which is quite valuable regardless of how much offensive ability he grows in to. Baseball America noted that Peraza is a “twitchy athlete with smooth actions at shortstop, excellent range, a quick transfer and strong arm”.
Even though Peraza hasn’t displayed much in-game power yet, the 20 year-old has posted exit velocities as high as 110 MPH. That’s a good sign, especially considering his barrel control and ability to make contact. However, he’ll have to start lifting the ball in order to actually make the most of his above-average raw power. He has a 1.48 ground ball to fly ball ratio in his minor league career. MLB Pipeline projects 15-20 home run power if he can learn to hit the ball in the air more frequently.
It’s worth noting that FanGraphs’ Eric Logenhagen pointed out some adjustments Peraza made in limited time in the Venezuelan Winter League: “There he showed a modified stance and hand set-up, but he played so little that it’s hard to say how it might impact his quality of contact without more looks and/or data to support it”. Perhaps this adjustment will boost Peraza’s in-game power output, though that obviously remains to be seen.
Peraza is also a good runner. All major publications grade his speed at 60 on the 20-80 scale, and he’s made use of it on the basepaths in games. He’s stolen 44 bases in 54 attempts in his minor league career.
FanGraphs is the only site that included Peraza in its league-wide top 100 prospects. Nonetheless, the shortstop is well-regarded elsewhere. Here’s where he ranks within the Yankees’ organization:
- Baseball America: 6th
- Baseball Prospectus: Not ranked, but included within “Prospects to dream on a little”
- FanGraphs: 3rd
- MLB Pipeline: 4th
Had there been a 2020 season, Peraza likely would have opened the year at Charleston. Now, the Yankees are faced with two choices: start him at Low-A Tampa or bump him up to High-A Hudson Valley. Considering that Peraza has already has some success in lower A-ball levels, I anticipate him spending most of his time with the Renegades. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in Low-A to begin the year to help him get back up to speed.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, Peraza’s not going to be a factor in the major leagues this year. He’s still just 20 and has to get to Double-A before anything else. Maybe, just maybe, if things break right he could finish the year in Somerset. I wouldn’t count on that, though.
It’s pretty easy to fall for a no-doubt shortstop prospect defensively, especially with some apparent offensive potential. If he can start lifting the ball, we’re looking at a surefire starting shortstop in the big leagues. Hopefully the adjustments he’s made and coaching he’s received pay off in games this year. The max exit velocity number is tantalizing, but it won’t matter if beats the ball into the ground. And yet, even if that remains the case, Peraza should be a strong reserve shortstop and/or utility infielder in the majors.