Lone Star Dugout Video: Martin Perez (5/2)
Martin Perez is showing improvement in his first six starts at Triple-A Round Rock this season. After posting a 6.43 ERA and yielding 72 hits in 49 innings with the Express last season, he now has a 4.54 ERA with 26 hits allowed in 33.2 frames.
Despite the progress, Perez doesn't appear particularly close to the majors. He'll most likely spend the majority of the season (at least) with Round Rock. As one scout noted during his May 2 start versus New Orleans, "The stuff is there. You'd probably grade it out as plus across the board. You just hope he learns how to pitch, but he's still plenty young. He just turned 21."
The Venezuela native made his Double-A debut in late 2009 and has now spent parts of four seasons at the upper levels without reaching the majors. But the scout went on to provide some perspective, saying "If this kid was pitching on Friday nights at the University of Texas now––which he would be at his age––people would be going crazy about the stuff."
The bottom line for Perez is that he must learn to 'pitch' to upper-level hitters before taking the next step forward. One area of improvement is that he's keeping his arsenal down in the zone this season, making him less hittable. It has also helped him induce more than 1.7 groundouts per flyout.
On May 2, the top pitching prospect featured a fastball anywhere between 88-94 mph, topping at 95. His fastball has excellent life. While Perez does a good job of keeping it down in the zone, he still has a tendency to overthrow. When Perez overthrows, it pulls his mechanics off-line, and he begins missing side-to-side with his fastball.
Perez also mixed in his 81-85 mph changeup, a 73-78 mph curveball, and one 88 mph cut-slider. He threw the change for a strike 11-of-18 times, getting two swings and misses. He threw 11-of-14 curves within the zone for two swinging strikes.
Perhaps the biggest issue for Perez in the New Orleans start was his inability to put hitters away early in counts. It ties back into learning how to 'pitch' to upper-level hitters. The left-hander has the stuff to miss bats and get early-count swings, but he's going into too many deep (2-2 or 3-2) counts after being ahead early.
The good news is that Perez is surviving Triple-A with passable results this season, meaning he's doing a better job of locating his arsenal. But he'll need to continue refining his approach and learning how to use his weapons. There's also a good chance he'll be throwing more cut-sliders as the year progresses.
Lone Star Dugout has video from the third and fifth innings of Perez's start versus New Orleans:
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