Giants Top 50: #12 - Nick Pereira

Don't call it Foppert redux. Despite winning the award named after the ill-fated former Giants prospect while pitching at USF and drawing comparisons to Jesse Foppert, Nick Pereira makes his way through the minors less celebrated than his predecessor. His successes and his shortcomings in 2006 were impressive as well as pinpointed in cause.

Date of Birth: 09/22/1982 Position: P Height: 6'0" Weight: 190 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 10th Round (#312 Overall) of the 2005 Draft
2006 Stats
San Jose - High-A 7 1 2.06 13 13 0 78.2 65 21 18 1 16 76 .222 1.43
Fresno - AAA 4 3 5.92 15 15 0 79.0 87 55 52 10 48 60 .281 0.88

A shortstop switched positions to become a pitcher. That is not exactly a headline. Position players turn to pitching more often than is recorded and rarely does it produce something to write about. It is the genesis of Nick Pereira's baseball career, notable because the change came in his freshman year at De Anza College in Cupertino. Pereira gives his coaches at the college credit for his progress saying it is "why I'm here right now."

"Here" is 2006, a season in two parts: an outstanding first half in high-A San Jose and a trying time in AAA Fresno. Pereira started 13 games with the Giants and won seven of those games. He began the year 4-0 with an earned run average under 1.00 and did not lose until a game against Modesto in late May. That loss would be the only loss of his season at San Jose.

Pereira thrives on control and his slider. Both worked for him in San Jose, 16 walks to 76 strikeouts with many of the punch-outs coming on Pereira's self-described strikeout pitch. He pitched two one-hit games before his call up to Fresno, April 9 against Visalia, and June 7 versus Modesto.

One of two Giants minor leaguers chosen for the All Star Futures Game, Pereira did not participate in the All-Star weekend event. He was called up to Fresno prior to the event, at first as an injury replacement. In 15 starts in Fresno he went 4-3 with 10 home runs allowed, a figure that ballooned out of control compared to the one home run he surrendered in San Jose. His ERA went way up as well topping out at 5.92. He allowed three times as many walks and his strikeout numbers declined although only slightly. Between the two levels he pitched nearly the exact amount of innings at both: 78.2 in San Jose and 79.0 with Fresno.

Regardless, Pereira stuck with the Grizzlies through the end of the season. It is possible he has learned what could be taught at the previous levels and Fresno is his exit exam. Pitching at the University of San Francisco after De Anza was the first chance he had to prove he was up to the challenge of a steep learning curve. In two years at the school he pitched as a starter and a reliever and in 2005 he anchored the Dons' staff with ten wins, three complete games, and was the aforementioned Foppert Award winner as the team's top pitcher.

Later that year he pitched again in both roles and wound up with a 5-3 record and ERA of 3.04 in 14 games with the short-season team in Salem-Keizer. He was projected to begin 2006 in low-A Augusta but proved he had earned the bump up to San Jose once he was there.

Pereira should not be held back for 2007 and beyond, not after the coaching staff in Fresno determined he was worth keeping at the highest level in the minors. His stuff qualifies him as a power pitcher: fastball in the low 90s, the slider that Baseball America rated one of the best breaking pitches among 2005 Giants draftees, and a developing changeup to keep hitters off balance. His mental approach should keep him in the game when his stuff or control falters. "In my first year as a pitcher at De Anza, I could feel my mentality switch from a position player to a pitcher when I got the itch as far as what the mound presence was," he said. "It was the whole understanding as far as how to switch it on and how to pitch in certain situations."

The 2007 picture of the lineups and pitching rotations for the minor league teams are still waiting to develop but Pereira should have a starting slot in Fresno. He looks like a middle relief candidate at the major league level or he could have a shot as a starter in the back end of the rotation. He needs to pass the test in Fresno first.

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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. Love/hate mail can be sent to, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.

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