Freicer Perez has it all. A really good fastball, good secondary stuff and size. The real questions could come down to mechanics, but if he’s able to put it all together, the Yankees might have unearthed a gem.
Weight: 190 pounds
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in 2014 for a reported bonus of $10,000.
Step 1, complete. Perez graduated to full season ball after spending 2015 and 2016 in half-season leagues. He aced the test. Perez went 10-3 with a 2.84 ERA with Low-A Charleston. In 123.2 innings, he allowed 96 hits, walked 45 and struck out 117. He had a 2.36 ERA in the second half of the year, when he held hitters to a .173 batting average.
This is something a little bit different than what’s been done with this list. Below, Donnie Collins and I discuss why Perez comes in at No. 8, what we like about him and what might need some work.
CF: Freicer Perez. Most intriguing project in the Yankees system?
DC: I guess he’s up there, athletically. He’s Dellin Betances’ height with that kind of fastball. Big questions with the breaking stuff. But a fastball-change up combination like that always plays to some degree.
CF: I don’t think it’s any surprise, but there’s a lot we personally don’t know about Perez. He’s only made to Charleston and while I’ve seen him almost every day around the Yankees complex down here in Tampa — he’s hard to miss at 6-foot-8 — I’ve yet to see him pitch. So, I watched some video and there were some things I liked, and some things I didn’t like. I liked that his fastball has life. It’s not straight. I saw one with a lot of two-seam movement. I didn’t like that he doesn’t seem to use his legs much in his delivery. It’s all upper body. That said, it’s also really effortless.
DC: Yeah, the book on him is that he can sink it, and his change is pretty good from what I’ve seen. Mechanically, he reminds me of what Betances used to be at that stage of their careers. There’s something that looks good about his motion, but can he repeat it consistently?
CF: It’s a good question and … I don’t know. Betances still goes into mechanical slumps, and he’s got four all-star nods to his name. When he’s going good, he’s elite. Perez’s windup is so simple, so maybe that’s a good thing when it comes to mechanics. Even though it doesn’t look like his legs are too involved, it’s a very simple motion. It’s like he’s just taking a step forward.
DC: He reminds me a lot, from that perspective, of Chris Young. He might have trouble repeating it, but what he does is simple. And he really, at his heart, seems like a sinkerballer, a guy who will get ground balls. I think there’s a lot mechanically they can work on. But the base is there. So is the stuff.
CF: Yeah, when he puts that fastball at the bottom of the zone, from how high he’s releasing it, forget about it. That would seem to be an almost unhittable pitch.
DC: Or, at least, a pitch you can’t hit consistently in the air. Which is what the Yankees like in their starters.
CF: I think Perez is maybe the guy the second farthest away from the bigs on our list, so he’s still got a lot of work to do. There’s no reason he shouldn’t start at Tampa to begin the season, and I think that will be quite a test for him, even it’s notoriously a pitcher’s league.
DC: He’s a guy I can see moving way up next year’s list or not being on it at all. You’d expect his strikeout numbers to go up with experience, and he needs to walk fewer than he does. All in all, it’s mechanics with him. When he’s right mechanically, his stuff is really good.
CF: Also thought this was interesting: old SWB friend Dan Giese was one of the guys who found Perez.
DC: Giese did a good job there. They got Perez for, like, $10,000.
CF: I’d say that’s already paid off and then some.
The Top 15
15: Ben Heller
14: Jonathan Loaisiga
13: Dillon Tate
12: Domingo Acevedo
11: Thairo Estrada
10: Chance Adams
9: Billy McKinney
8: Domingo German
7: Freicer Perez
3: March 30
2: March 31
1: April 1
Photo courtesy of the New York Yankees