Jays From the Couch continues to count down our 2019 Blue Jays Top Prospects with #13, Hector Perez
Right handed pitcher Hector Perez was signed as an international free agent by the Houston Astros on July 7, 2014. He began his professional baseball career in 2015 at age 19 in rookie ball and has been working his way up through the minor leagues since then. In 2015 he excelled in two levels of rookie ball and the Dominican summer league with a combined era of 1.64 in 17 games. In 2016 at A- ball he was again dominant with a 1.57 era in 7 games. Facing tougher opposition at A ball in 7 games later in 2016, his era went north to 4.60, the only time in his pro career he has had an era north of 4.00. He started 2017 at A ball but adjusted well enough to post a 2.50 era in 4 games and earn a promotion to A+ where he held his own with a 3.63 era. He split 2018 between A+ and AA and in July of 2018, he was traded to the Blue Jays as part of the trade for Roberto Osuna.
|2015||19||3 Teams||3 Lgs||FRk-Rk||HOU||2||0||1.64||2.45||17||10||2||1||55.0||30||10||23||50||0.964|
|2016||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A-||HOU||4||1||3.15||3.75||14||10||1||0||60.0||47||21||34||80||1.350|
|2017||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-A||HOU||7||6||3.44||4.53||25||17||3||2||107.1||78||41||78||128||1.453|
|2018||22||3 Teams||3 Lgs||A+-AA||HOU||3||5||3.76||3.83||27||18||5||2||115.0||79||48||64||133||1.243|
|AA (||AA (||AA (||Minors||0||2||3.61||3.83||10||7||1||0||42.1||29||17||24||50||1.252|
|A+ (||A+ (||A+ (||Minors||9||8||3.72||4.44||38||25||7||4||162.0||119||67||107||187||1.395|
|A (2||A (2||A (2||Minors||3||2||3.83||4.56||11||10||0||0||49.1||37||21||33||68||1.419|
|Rk (||Rk (||Rk (||Minors||1||0||1.07||1.78||10||3||2||1||25.1||10||3||17||18||1.066|
In four seasons pitching in MiLB, starting from rookie ball, and working his way up to AA in 2018, Perez has a very respectable 3.20 era. He has never allowed as many hits as innings pitched at any level and his career SO/9 to date is 10.43. Let’s put that in to perspective – 10.43 SO/9 in MLB would have put him 11th best among qualifying starting pitchers. In terms of repertoire, Perez throws a fastball, slider, curveball and splitter. His fastball is projected to be well above average. He throws in the low to mid 90s, occasionally throwing in the high 90s. His slider and splitter are projected to be above average to go with an average curveball. A pitcher with these tools who can put up these kinds of numbers? Why isn’t he ranked higher on this list?
The biggest drawback with Perez is his command or lack thereof. His command is currently graded at 30 (well below average), projected to improve to 45 (just below average), his MiLB walk numbers bear this out. To date his BB/9 average is 5.3. Again, putting that in to perspective, there were 57 MLB pitchers with enough innings pitched to be qualifiers. The highest BB/9 among them was 4.67. Simply put, you can’t issue that many free passes in the majors or you won’t be able to last long enough to win or help your team win. Looking at all MLB pitchers, a BB/9 of 5.3 would have had Perez tied for 652nd best.
It’s pretty clear what the Jays have here – a pitcher with the raw talent to be able to compete but who needs better command of those pitches to be successful in MLB. The Blue Jays thought enough of Perez to add him to their 40 man roster. He has been used as a starter in 55 of his 83 MiLB games to date. He has also finished 11 games and has 5 saves on his resume. With his repertoire it seems like he has the tools to be a good starting pitcher, but the Jays might decide to use him as a high leverage innings relief pitcher.
Having pitched successfully at AA, the logical place for Perez to pitch in 2019 is at AAA. The only thing likely to delay that promotion is a logjam of pitchers ahead of him in the depth charts. Plan A for the Blue Jays in 2019 appears to be a rotation of Stroman, Sanchez, Borucki, Shoemaker and Richard. If this is the case, pitchers who have pitched at AAA and MLB such as Reid-Foley, Pannone, Thornton and Waguespack could start 2019 in the AAA rotation. All of this is subject to change due to injuries, poor performances, trades or even release (if either of Shoemaker/Richard pitch very poorly, the Jays might not keep them around). Perez will get his opportunity at AAA. It is up to him, with the help of the coaching staff, to learn better command of his pitches. If he can do so and cut down on the walks, he can potentially help the Jays as soon as 2020.
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