Sunday, August 18, 2013

Random Prospect of the Day - Carlos Perez

In today’s edition of this series, we will check in with a lefthander who has gone from being a future stud to a guy who just might be - hopefully, maybe - if everything goes right, a useful pitcher someday for Atlanta.  Sometimes, prospects fizzle out well before they knock on the door.  Maybe Carlos Perez can get back into the future plans for the Braves, though.  After all, a team can never have enough nasty left-handers.

Perez was born on November 20th, 1991.  On that day, the Braves released future pitching coach Randy St. Claire.  Though, they would resign him, I do like matching birthdays with events in the Braves past.  At just 16, Perez signed with the Braves for $600,000 and made his professional debut the following season with the Gulf Coast Braves, pitching with future major leaguers James Parr and Zeke Spruill.  The results weren't too awfully pretty, but he got his feet wet at 17 years-old.

The following season (2010), Perez arrived on the scene with Danville.  In six starts and 32 innings, Perez didn’t allow a homer and sported a 3.20 FIP.  Considering he was facing a lot of college guys, that was very impressive.   Amazingly, the D-Braves were only 34-34 that year despite having Evan Gattis, Joey Terdoslavich, and Andrelton Simmons.  But none of those three and none of the other prospects in the Appalachian League earned the circuit's Baseball America Top Prospect.  Perez did, though.  He even made it to Rome to finish the year, but a broken rib in early August ended what was otherwise a wonderful campaign.

Expectations were high for Perez entering 2011.  He was on the outskirts of the organizational Top 10 Prospects according to more than a few analysts.   Back at Rome and with a shot to move quickly, Perez fell on his face.  In 125 innings, he walked 66 (4.8 BB/9) and uncorked 20 wild pitches.  His mechanics were clearly worrisome and resulted in an astounding six balks.  To put that into perspective, the 2011 Rome Braves had 12 balks as a team.

In 2012, Perez was tabbed for a return trip to Rome.  After a month of getting hammered by the opposition, Perez was demoted back to Danville.  There, he worked with the coaches to fine-tune his delivery in preparation for the upcoming season.  The effort quickly paid off as he finished the season out of the D-Braves’ bullpen with 50 K’s in 30.2 ING.  Now, the expectations were tempered because Perez had already dominated at the APPY League before.  Just the same, it was the first signs of a return-to-form from that former prospect.

Perez continued his success this season, finally graduating from Rome for the first time after 48 games, 29 starts, and 159.1 ING from 2010-13.  In three months in the SALLY League to start the season, Perez struck out 37 over 32 innings.  He kept the ball in the park (1 homer allowed) and walked just 8, a pretty 4.6 K/BB ratio. The work earned him a promotion to Lynchburg and six games in, it was a success.  In 10.2 ING, he struck out 12.  However, the wheels fell off in a trio of appearances from August 2-12.  He recorded zero outs on the 8th, allowing four walks and a double.  A pair of errors compounded the inning and he was charged with seven total runs – two earned – against Wilmington.

He faced one batter on the 12th and was removed after a walk. Two days later, he was officially placed on the DL.  I have no updates on the severity of his injury.

There was a time where Perez was the next big thing in the Braves system. His fastball tops off at around 93 mph and with a very tight curveball, he can come at you with two plus pitches with a change-of-pace that is in development.  Where he goes from here is a question mark.  If he’s not hurt, Perez will be back next year, likely with Lynchburg and the Braves will want to see something from him.  Even if Perez maxes out as a LOOGY, the Braves will take that from his electric arm.  Always room in the bullpen for a guy who can consistently sit down left-handed hitters.

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