Name: Martin Perez
Notable 2011 Stats: 3.16 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 6 HRA, 36 BB, 83 K, and 52% GB% in 88 1/3 IP with Frisco (AA);
6.43 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 4 HRA, 20 BB, 37 K, and 53% GB% in 49 IP with Round Rock (AAA);
4.33 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 10 HRA, 56 BB, 120 K, and 52% GB in 137 1/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: Perez is eminently comparable with #26 prospect Manny Banuelos: he’s a relatively small (6’0″ 178) lefthander with good groundball tendencies and three pitches that all have plus potential. Like Banuelos, Perez was extremely young for both the Double-A and Triple-A levels and held his own, at least if you believe his FIP indicates his true level of performance in the hitter-friendly PCL more than his ERA does.
Perez throws from a deceptive delivery with a hip turn that hides the ball. He works in the 90-94 mph range with good life on his fastball, and his curveball is devastating when it’s on. His changeup is inconsistent but works well when he trusts it. If all the ingredients come together for him, Perez could be a #1 starter, and he obviously has ample time to adjust, given that he turns just 21 in the first week of the 2012 season.
Why He’s This Low: It took Perez parts of three seasons to escape the Texas League, and while his ERA came down substantially at the level from 2009-10 to 2011, his FIP suggests that it was more of a gradual improvement than a quantum leap. He then got bashed around in Triple-A, allowing 72 hits in 49 innings, a number that cries out for explanation beyond “bad luck on balls in play.”
In fact, Perez tends to have very high BABIPs–since 2008, he’s never had a BABIP below .300, has had one below .330 just twice in six stops, and has seen three BABIPs .350 or higher. That seems to suggest he makes too many mistakes in the strike zone.
Perez’s walk and strikeout rates have also gone all over the place in his career; and it’s tough to get a good read on his true talent level given how young he’s been for his levels. In a lot of ways, he’s sort of a lefthanded Trevor Cahill–he consistently gets ground balls, and he’s got the tools to be great, but the pitch-to-pitch, inning-to-inning, start-to-start, and month-to-month consistency simply isn’t there.
Again like Banuelos, Perez has to contend with the standard durability concerns for a small pitcher; his 2011 workload was a career high.
Conclusions: There are worse things than becoming the next Trevor Cahill; another possibility is that Perez becomes an Erik Bedard type of pitcher. His delivery and arsenal aren’t all that far off from Bedard’s, nor is his build, which could lead to the same type of injury concerns.
If Perez puts everything together, which is still quite possible given his youth, then he’ll let us know what Bedard could’ve done had he stayed healthy. If not, he could end up as a maddeningly inconsistent Cahill/Jonathan Sanchez sort of pitcher.
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