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Diamonds in Single A: Alexander Perez

July 18, 2009
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For this week’s Diamonds in Single A, I am going to take a look at Alexander Perez, a young pitcher who really burst on the scene this year and just last week got his first start in high A.

Perez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. He was only 17 years old when he signed the deal, so he actually spent that first season in the Dominican Summer league. Alexander throws a fastball, curve, and change. He throws in the low 90’s, but due to a slight frame (he only weighs 156 and is 6’2”) and growth potential there is every reason to think that he will add a few more MPH’s to his pitches. Both secondary pitches would be at home in the major leagues, and as the stats will show he has a great feel for his pitches already:

Year Level WHIP SO/9 BB/9 ERA H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
2007 FrgnR 1.09 11.6 2.4 2.9 7.4 .5 4.92
2008 R 1.05 8.7 2.9 4.26 6.6 .9 3.06
2009 A-/A+ 1.14 8.3 2.6 2.83 7.6 .9 3.15

If you have been following this column then the low walk totals should stick out. For most young pitchers command is the biggest issue—in particular, there is a high walk rate. Perez has managed to not only keep his walk rates low but at each stop has posted a phenomenal WHIP. To give an idea of how good a WHIP Perez has shown, if he had his current WHIP in the majors he would have the 6th best WHIP in the AL (it’s not fair to compare against NL because of the DH). He would be tied with King Felix and would be ranked right ahead of Beckett and Sabathia. The best WHIP of any Indian right now is Pavano with a 1.37.

Another wonderful stat is the consistent strike out rates since he came stateside; for the record his current strike out rate would rank 6th in the AL. Perez shows that he could be that strikeout type pitcher the current Indians have been lacking. He is not a pitch to contact type of pitcher at all; last year he was second in the rookie league with an opponent’s batting average of .204. So when you combine that OBA along with this walk rate and his WHIP, it is easy to see why ERA can be very misleading for pitchers at this level. Perez might have had an ERA over 4, but his rates make him look like an all star type pitcher last year. He has maintained his rates this year in A ball and his ERA has stayed low, showing that last year’s ERA was a fluke.

If there is one negative stat, it is Alexander’s home run rate; you would like to see that number cut in half. Think about it: if you average a HR a game and you start, say, 32 games in a year, then in that situation you would obviously give up 32 home runs a year. Sorry about the ESPN type analysis there, but 32 home runs would have tied for the 3rd most home runs given up in all of baseball last year. This is a slight concern, because it could also show that he might be leaving hittable pitches out there, pitches that as he advances up the minors will get killed by more polished hitters. Still, this is really the only concern going forward, and it’s key to remember that Perez is going to turn 20 in less than 10 days and that statistically he is showing near perfection.

I for one am very excited to see Perez’s growth. He is going to get stronger, fill in his frame, and continue to develop his secondary pitches. He has the potential to have three plus pitches, and in my opinion in terms of starting pitchers I am not sure anyone not named Adam Miller has a higher potential upside than Alexander Perez. In my own personal Indians top 30, at the midway point I have Alexander Perez rated the 8th best prospect in the entire system.

- Jeff Ellis

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