Last year he had a very successful rookie season in the Dominican Summer League where he finished with 68 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched and a 3.23 ERA. He was playing for the first time stateside during Spring Training this year and now in Extended Spring Training he will be able to play his first full season stateside and work on continue developing as a pitcher.
Perez had a great rookie season during DSL, and as he reflected on it, he was very thankful for getting through the season in good physical shape.
“I think that it went well," Perez said through the help of a translator. "I feel good about finishing the season healthy, going through the year healthy. I thank the Yankees for giving me the opportunity, ultimately it went well.”
Perez was very productive during his first professional season and he hopes to bring last season’s momentum with him into the States this year. However, the key for Perez at this stage is development since he only had a year of professional experience before Spring Training.
He is working on developing and learning how to take advantage of his pitching assets. Specifically, he needs to work on his delivery, strength, and becoming more consistent all-around, and he is definitely headed in the right direction.
“[I am] working on my delivery, working on my release point and then working on my physique build up and stamina,” Perez said. “I am learning a lot throughout the process and throughout the process I can see the progress.”
During Spring Training, Perez was able to see the changes in his delivery, although he was not completely satisfied with his results.
“I have been working on delivery so the progress has been good on that end,” Perez said. “I am not happy with the results yet [though]. I understand that it’s a process and the process is taking shape and I am definitely getting better.”
Pitching coach Elvys Quezada understands the process that Perez is undertaking. The coaching staff has noticed a rise in Perez’s velocity and a physical change which has pushed the staff to take their time with Perez’s development in Spring Training.
“When you have a spike in velocity, when you change in physique, these things are all differences and he needs to learn to take hold of them and really apply it to his game,” Quezada said, noting Perez's change from once hitting 94-95 mph to now sitting in that range. “When you have a change like that in physique it takes some time for the development process, so that’s really what his Spring Training was all about, getting into his delivery, getting it into his new body.”
Standing at 6-foot 10-inches, Perez has all of the potential to become a very powerful pitcher. Currently he is working on become more consistent on having a strong base to increase the speed and velocity of his fastballs.
“Consistency is really where it’s at, at this point, creating some type of that balance there,” Quezada said. “What gives me confidence, [is] his hard work and he’s able to fill up the strike zone.”
Quezada has high expectations for Perez’s development, especially with Perez’s ability to be a hard worker and to load up the strike zone. Perez is only lacking consistency with his secondary pitches, but with his work ethic, consistency is very attainable.
To recreate the same success that he had in DSL a year ago going forward, Perez believes he has to remain aggressive in the strike zone.
“[I need to] continue with my mentality of attacking the strike zone,” Perez said. “And now with a few things that we have changed, my delivery is taking hold and is being more consistent.”
To prepare for Extended Spring Training, Perez established a routine to build him up for this season. Through that routine he worked on his physique to become stronger, to build stamina and to continue improving his delivery.
“I have gotten bigger and stronger,” Perez said. “I am trying harder and I am more consistent with my delivery.”
In Extended Spring Training, Quezada believes that Perez has some elements to continue to work on. However, Perez continues to progress according to Quezada, and if Perez can continue to throw strikes like he did in DSL, he is on a very good path.
“He’s always been a strike thrower and that’s great to see at this level; knowing and having a knack for the strike zone,” Quezada said. “He’s developing at a pretty good rate [and] that’s really what Extended Spring Training is about.”
Perez has a fastball that sits in the mid-nineties; a changeup that he throws for strikes; and is working on making his a curveball a more consistent pitch. Perez is still polishing his curveball although he does feel very confident throwing it as of late.
“The confidence is there in the pitch; I do feel confident throwing that pitch in the strike zone,” Perez said. “I hope that it’ll move me along and develop at a good pace.”
Quezada believes Perez’s curveball has been developing into one of his more consistent pitches due to Perez’s had work.
“Back to consistency, the shape has been more consistent as he’s been throwing it more, which is a testament to his hard work and his focus throughout his development,” Quezada said.
Perez is not the same pitcher from last season. He has become much stronger, gained stamina, improved the consistency with his changeup, and now is looking to do the same with his relatively new curveball. While not a top prospect just yet, all signs point towards him heading in the right direction.