Nick Senzel may be the more polished infielder heading into June 9th MLB Draft, but the most exciting infield prospect may just be Delvin Perez. Perez, who will be just 17-years old on draft day, is the best middle infielder on the board, and will almost certainly go in the first 10 picks.
Last season saw an explosion of young talent at the shortstop position. Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell and even Corey Seager to an extent made big splashes on the big league level while Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers were the first three picks of a 2015 first round that saw seven shortstops drafted. This season, Perez is the only shortstop in the top-50 draft prospects, and he is a good one.
Perez, who hails from Puerto Rico’s International Baseball Academy, draws the unfair comparison to the aforementioned Correa. Correa, or course, was the first overall pick in the 2012, the first 1-1 ever out of Puerto Rico. While Perez shares Correa’s home land with him, they are two different players. Can Perez be a similar player to Correa? It’s not out of the question, but it’s safer to temper expectations.
The shortstop may be the best defensive prospect in the draft. Where many young infielders are often big question marks in regards to where they will stick, there is no question that Perez is a future big league shortstop, and with the propensity for the highlight-reel play, will likely win a few Gold Gloves before he hangs it up.
Perez has an arm that is strong enough for any position in the infield, and it works like a cannon when he fires to first. His speed is his greatest tool as it helps on both sides of the ball, giving him outstanding range defensively. He has great instincts, solid footwork and both soft and quick hands that make him seem like he plays shortstop quite effortlessly.
Where Perez lacks is his ability at the plate. He doesn’t have a big power profile just yet, but it’s important to remember that he is merely 17 years old and carrying just 165 pounds in a 6-foot-3 frame. He is certain to gain bulk once in a professional training regimen, so he has potential. When you watch his swing, it appears that he has the foundation of some sound mechanics down and is simply in need of some refinement. If some of his big swings connect, they are certain to find a wall or at least a few gaps down the road.
He stands pretty tall at the plate, his back elbow up very high at helmet level. Perez keeps his bat curled over his head with a little bounce in it. He has a big leg kick and a swing that looks big, but it comes through the zone pretty quickly.
Perez struggles is in his plate discipline. He doesn’t seem to be able to handle off-speed pitches, often fooled. He lacks solid strike zone judgement, which is something that unfortunately can’t always be taught, but it can be improved. Looking at Perez’s swing and natural athleticism, he can project to be a solid hitter one day, but if he doesn’t improve his off-speed and strike zone recognition he may not be much of an on base threat. With 60-grade speed, learning to take a walk can definitely improve his all around game.
Perez should be a nice .280-to-.300 hitter with double-digit home run power one day, but as it stands right now, it will likely be his defense that keeps him around baseball for a long time. There’s no reason to expect the astronomical rise to the bigs as his Puerto Rican counterpart Correa made, but a big league future is certainly in store.
For videos of his stellar fielding and batting mechanics as well as more projections, continue to Today’s Knuckleball for the full article by clicking on the link below.