I’ve been trying to find time to write about Jose Peraza for a few weeks now, and it appears today is finally the day. Chalk me up as a baseball fan who has been enamored with the Atlanta Braves farm system and their incredible ability to build great talent over the last 2-3 decades.
From Tom Glavine to Brian McCann to Jason Heyward to Craig Kimbrel to Julio Teheran – they are among the best in the business at identifying and developing elite talent. And that’s just 5 names. As a fantasy baseball manager, it bumps any Braves prospect up a bit in my rankings, as the track record of success is worth taking notice and advantage of. Is Jose Peraza the next great Atlanta Braves prospect to make it up through the system to emerge as an All Star? Let’s take a look at him in a bit more detail to see what he’s all about.
Coming into the minor leagues as a SS, Peraza made his debut in 2011 as a 17 year old, playing 66 games and hit .281 with 28 SBs in Rookie ball. 2012 was much of the same, hitting for a solid average and stealing another 25 bases in his 52 games. He took things to the next level in 2013, hitting .288 with 64 steals in 114 games at class A for the Rome Braves. He was promoted to A+ coming into the 2014 season and was on absolute fire through his first 66 games, hitting .342 with 35 more steals. That is not a typo. He was indeed hitting .342, which was helped quite a bit by an incredible .376 BABIP. He was promoted a few days ago to AA and has played 3 games so far – but has already stolen 2 more bases. Do you see the common themes here? The kid can run, and he can hit for average. He only has 4 career home runs, which is fairly indicative of the power potential he brings with him through the minors, and isn’t a bet to hit more than 3-5 a year at his peak MLB level.
Looking a bit deeper into his plate discipline, we can see he doesn’t walk all too much (72 BBs in 303 career games, good for a 5.4% career BB%) but he also doesn’t strike out at a worrisome clip (11.1%). As he continues to grow and mature, he has a chance to improve these skills, which good hitters usually do – but the nice thing is that he’s got a great ability to put the ball in play which creates a high floor for the batting average category.
The Braves have played him at 2B primarily this year, as they are pretty set at shortstop with arguably the MLB’s best defensive option at that position with Andrelton Simmons for the foreseeable future. But with Dan Uggla playing his way out of a job, and the light hitting Tommy La Stella manning the fort for the time being, the opportunity for Peraza to play his way into a role appears to be there. He’s only 20 years old and is just getting his feet wet at AA. Peraza will likely finish 2014 in AA and start there once again in 2015, and if all goes well he’ll force the Braves to promote him to AAA before the end of next year. With all this being said, it’s hard to see him making his major league debut before September 2015 at the absolute earliest. He offers much of what Elvis Andrus brings to the table for fantasy managers, with the ability to hit for a good average (.270-.280) and steal lots of bases (probably 40+ over a full season). Depending where he hits in the lineup will determine his Runs, but he’s probably a guy who can hit leadoff over the long-term and be a candidate for 90+. For those in shallow leagues, he’s a name to keep in mind when he makes his debut in a couple years. Dynasty and keeper league managers may be wise to acquire him in the short-term if their minors system or deep benches enable stockpiling prospects. We could be looking at a perennial top 10 fantasy second baseman as early as 2016.
Sources: Fangraphs.com, Baseballreference.com, Faketeams.com