Pereira started the year in San Jose, where he played from Opening Day to the middle of June. In thirteen starts there he amassed a record of 7-1 with an ERA at 2.06, and his strikeouts-to-walks ration remained obscene at 76 to 16. For his efforts in the California League he was named to the Cal/Carolina All-Star Roster, and San Francisco’s brass sat up and took notice of what their 2005 10th round pick was doing when they chose him to represent the organization at the All-Star Futures Game in Pittsburgh next month.
Pereira’s road took a turn north when he was called up to AAA Fresno on June 18th. He started his first game at the highest level of the minors in Portland, first considered as an injury call-up. With about two weeks with the Grizzlies Pereira’s numbers have come down to earth from his early season dominating figures, one win to one loss and an ERA just under 6.00 with nine strikeouts in three starts, but growth is more about making mistakes than just blowing people away.
He has to be doing something right to be recognized by the All-Star Futures Game selection, and to watch him in person is to see just how far he has come. Consider Pereira’s history as a baseball player; this is a young hurler who was drafted just one year ago, who began pitching in his freshman year of college. His changeup has been a work in progress since the beginning of the season, and Thursday night in a start against the Sacramento Rivercats he had that off-speed stuff working. He struck out two Rivercats hitters with well-placed changeups, one swinging and one caught looking.
Over five and two thirds innings, Pereira went to three-ball counts five times. His command was neither outstanding nor cause for concern, and his outing wasn’t terrible at all despite taking the loss. Progress is made through these kinds of starts, games where a young pitcher has the chance to work out of jams, and pitch with a deficit to keep the team in it. In the start in Sacramento, Pereira did just that.
Take a look at his counterpart in that start: Jason Windsor is a highly-rated prospect in the Oakland Athletics system who is having a great year with Sacramento after a call up from AA Midland. He had the Grizzlies swinging at everything he had to offer and collected ten strikeouts, but his command looked worse than Pereira’s; more walks and just more pitches out of the zone, yet fewer hits allowed. But that’s the minor leagues. Raw talent and perplexing outcomes, unexpected performances and things that aren’t easily explained. By now, Giants fans should be used to this.
The discrepancy in Pereira’s stats from San Jose to Fresno is the difference between high-A and AAA, as well as an excellent team (San Jose) and a bad team (Fresno). Of course some marks on a pitcher’s record are solely his responsibility, but having a great team behind him in San Jose had to have helped. The highest level of minor league ball is the biggest test Pereira has had to face, and there’s talk that he might remain with Fresno beyond his time filling in a roster spot.
What is left for him to learn in San Jose is less than what he can experience in Fresno, and he’s earned accomplishments that define his talent. He’s at the junction of his career where he needs to grow more than he needs to collect flashy statistics. He was not drafted to be the Man, and with reasonable expectations and the appreciation for what he can do, Nick Pereira will turn out to be a fine addition to the pitching staff at any level. Hopefully soon he’ll have a chance to prove it by the shores of McCovey Cove.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom and first where she's had the honor to write for the Giants on SFDugout.com. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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