Pensacola fell back to .500 on the young season when they lost 2-1 at Birmingham Friday. They appeared to be on the way to a lead in the seventh with loaded bases and no one out from a leadoff single by Marquez Smith, a Seth Mejias-Brean hit, and Juan Perez walk. Unfortunately one run scoring on a double play was the only dent they put in the plate before an inning-ending strikeout. That was all the scoring the offense could muster as the Barons limited them to six hits on the evening. Mejias-Brean, Perez, and Jesse Winker all reached safely twice from a hit and walk each.
The lack of offense spoiled a solid start by Wandy Peralta who gave up only one unearned run on five hits/two walks while striking out six across the first six innings. Drew Hayes relieved him with two scoreless frames to keep his ERA at zero on the season. Chad Rogers entered in the ninth and got only one out before allowing a run which cost him the loss.
Peralta has been pitching in the Cincinnati system since 2010 when he was eighteen years old after signing a foreign free agent contract. He started with a couple of years in the Dominican Leagues including a 6-1/2.05 campaign in 2011. That earned him a trip stateside and though he got roughed up while relieving in the Arizona League the next year he still made it into the Dayton bullpen in 2013. That season he finished with a 3.80 ERA while pitching 85 innings which prompted a move into the Bakersfield rotation last season. He finished with an ernie near five while finishing seventh in the California League with 142 innings pitched. Now after three starts this season he’s lowered his ERA down to 2.30 with ten strikeouts in almost 16 innings.
Peralta is a left-hander who stands 6’0/210#. He throws a good fastball that tops out in the mid-90’s and gets good drop on a changeup that comes in over ten mph slower. He’s also working on a curve that is still inconsistent, but has been a good pitch for him when he can throw it well.
A hard-throwing left-hander is enough to get excited about, but in Peralta’s case he will go as far as he can improve command. Thus far in his minor league career he’s walked almost 10% of the batters he faced. His strikeout rate has been low since leaving low-A thereby causing a K/BB ratio below two.
Then again control issues are common for young pitching prospects and now that he’s in a AA rotation he’ll have a generous amount of action to work on improvement. Meanwhile he’s now becoming one of the more interesting southpaw prospects in the Cincinnati organization. He’s not on many radars right now, but he is competing in the Southern League at the age of 23 so the opportunity is there to jump up to the highest level if he continues to get the job done.
Actually, just throwing from the left side will probably keep him around a while. Though the top of the Cincinnati prospect lists are crowded with pitchers all of them are right-handed. The top two lefties are probably David Holmberg at Louisville and Amir Garrett at Daytona who’s development was slowed earlier while his baseball action was limited to time when he wasn’t playing NCAA basketball. Lack of competition can keep job security for a while, but this is the minor leagues where prospects need to move up or move out. In Peralta’s case he’s showing potential to do the former and if he makes strides in control he should get a shot in the International League next season.
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