Yankees Prospect Check-in: Oswald Peraza

The Yankees can finally once look at the development of the Farm System with admiration. This upcoming SS class could become one of the best

As the Yankees head down the final stretch of their season looking for a playoff spot, the minor league season is coming to its end. This season saw the emergence of two incredibly talented shortstop prospects, Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. Volpe and Peraza have produced outlandish numbers this season, flying up the prospect rankings. While much of the attention this season has been on Volpe, it can be easy to forget how well Peraza has played this season. While Volpe cemented himself as the number one prospect this season, Peraza is right behind him, making a case for that number one spot.

While facing international spending restrictions, the Yankees signed Peraza out of Venezuela for $175,000 in 2016. An unheralded prospect, the 17-year old Peraza flew below the radar for many teams. He was a raw prospect with great defensive tools and elite speed but wasn’t regarded as a great hitter. Interestingly, Peraza is the only player from the 2016 signing class to still be in the Yankees organization. The Yankees main goal with Peraza was to aggressively develop him. The young shortstop has been more than up to the challenge, producing solid offensive numbers and a veteran-like presence on defense. 

Yankees prospect Oswald Peraza is ready to stand out in 2021 - Pinstripe  Alley
Source: Mark Cunninghamm

The 17-year old was immediately thrust into rookie ball, where he posted a .381 OBP over two different teams. The start of 2018 showed him being promoted to the Pulaski Yankees of the Appalachian League, where he showcased his knack of reaching base once again. His speed on the basepaths carried over, as he advanced to 21 SB on only 23 attempts in his young minor league career. 

Peraza finished 2018 with Pulaski and was promoted to the Low-A Staten Island Yankees at the beginning of 2019. Despite only playing 19 games, Peraza was promoted again, this time to the High-A Charleston River Dogs. The Yankees were pushing the envelope with Peraza’s development, and he was thriving. He slashed .273/.348/.681, along with 18 SB. Peraza finished in the top 5 for shortstops in BA, OBP, and SB in the South Atlantic League. The 19-year old was 2.5 years younger than the league average but proved that he could compete at any level despite his age. 

After the fiasco that was 2020, Peraza started off 2021 back in High-A, this time with the Hudson Valley Renegades. Peraza picked up right where he left off; he displayed elite defensive skills, the ability to get on base (.386 OBP) and steal bases (16 SB in 17 attempts). But this season was different. Seemingly out of nowhere, Peraza found a power stroke. After only combining for only 5 HR his first two years of professional baseball, he quickly belted 5 HR in his first 28 games of the season. Couple this with his 10 doubles, Peraza had a .532 SLG and a wRC+ of 145. Unsurprisingly this earned Peraza yet another quick promotion, as the Yankees sent him to the Somerset Patriots of the AA Northeast League. 

Peraza has spent the majority of 2021 in Somerset, and despite being nearly 3 years below league average in age, he hasn’t slowed down one bit. In 284 PA with Somerset, Peraza has posted .294/.3418/.466 slash line, a 122 wRC+ and 20 SB. What about his little power surge in High-A? You bet it carried over. Peraza has 12 HR, 16 2B, and 2 3B in 79 games. His ability to draw walks, make solid line-drive contact, and stellar defense, have led him to have the best all-around tools of any Yankees infield prospect, including Anthony Volpe. For Peraza, his main focus is getting stronger and putting the ball in the air. Yankee scouts have described Peraza as having one of the fastest exit velocities in the entire Farm, with some saying he has max exit velocity numbers of around 110 mph. If Peraza can adjust his swing and focus on driving the ball up, I have no doubt that he will have 20-25 HR seasons consistently. 

While his stats are undoubtedly impressive, it’s the fact that he did this during multiple quick promotions without having a chance to fully adjust to the level he was playing at. If for example, Peraza stayed in High-A for the whole season, he would have produced monstrous numbers. This stellar 2021 has paid dividends in terms of his ranking, as he is now the third-highest ranked Yankees prospect (behind Volpe and Jasson Dominguez), as well as the 64th best prospect in all of baseball. But what does this mean for Peraza and his future in the Yankees organization?

Cracking the MLB roster will be no easy task for the 21-year-old Peraza, as he has 24-year-old Gleyber Torres and 20-year-old Anthony Volpe ahead of him. Combine this with the absolutely stacked free agent SS class of this year, there is a chance we may never see Peraza in pinstripes. It’s long been speculated that the Yankees would be willing to move on from one of their top SS prospects via trade, clearing up space for one of them. Whether the Yankees go the free-agent route and move Gleyber Torres to 2B, or trade one for “pitching help” during a postseason run, both are definitely possibilities. Peraza has significant trade value, and with the New Jersey native, homegrown Volpe as your competitor, it seems likely Peraza would be the one to be moved. 

Nonetheless, Peraza is still raking, as he was promoted for the THIRD time this season. In his first game with AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre, he homered. If this is a sign for the future, the Yankees could have their dream infield partnership for decades. Regardless of if he stays in New York, or is dealt to another team, Peraza is one to watch for years to come. His on-the-field play will leave you in awe, and his “chip on the shoulder” mentality off of it will transform him into an elite MLB talent.

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