Wilfredo Perez has already established himself as one of the Orioles‘ better finds out of the Dominican Republic. Expected to miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Perez came back quickly and, more importantly, successfully. In his brief stint with the short-season Aberdeen Ironbirds, Perez‘s numbers look eerily similar to his 2005 season numbers with the rookie-level Bluefield Orioles despite the jump to college trained hitters. Unfortunately, Perez's slender body type means it will take a few full healthy seasons before he sheds his fragile reputation.
DOB: 08/12/84 Height: 6-0 Weight: 145 B/T: L/L
Wilfredo Perez's age 22 season:
Perez works with a lively fastball in the 88-92 MPH range. It had good movement before his elbow injury, but he seemed to get more downward movement on it after he came back. His curveball shows promise to be a second plus offering, with enough movement to fool hitters even when he isn‘t able to keep it in the zone. He also has the feel for a solid changeup that gives him a chance to remain a starter. At this point, Perez has below average control and command of all his pitches. It would be unfair to call it a problem at this point, since he came back so quickly from TJ surgery, but it is something to monitor moving forward.
Perez's frame and previous history has led many to believe he will be forced into a relief role. Despite having the stuff of a starter, Perez had serious trouble maintaining effectiveness after about 50 pitches. It's tough to separate his physical limitations from the standard recovery process. At times, he seemed tentative coming inside against fellow portsiders, which led to a walk per inning when facing lefties. This is yet another thing that needs to be monitored next season when we have more than a 24 inning sample to work with.
Wilfredo Perez has the potential to succeed immediately in high-A Fredrick and will get an extra-long look in spring training, but he is most likely earmarked for a rotation slot in low-A Delmarva. If his control improves as much as many fellow TJ survivors in their second year coming back, Perez's main focus will be gaining consistency with his secondary offerings. His ultimate role could be anything from a power reliever to a mi-rotation starter. Despite his stuff, Perez has a ways to go to prove detractors (that doubt his ability to stay healthy) wrong. He's a genuine high-risk/high-reward prospect.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com