Patrick Teale

Freicer Perez continues to prove to be one of the emerging top young prospects in the Yankee farm system.

STATEN ISLAND, NY -- Only entering into his second season of professional baseball this year, in may respects, Freicer Perez still has a lot to prove to the Yankees organization. However, a flame-throwing pitcher out of the Dominican Republic, the tall 6-foot-8 right-hander throws four different pitches and his fastball can touch 98 miles per hour, and his ceiling is both vast and reachable.

Perez has managed to do something that many pitchers don’t.  After playing in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) for the Yankees last year, he jumped straight over to Staten Island this season.  Skipping two entire levels in the farm system [Gulf Coast League and Pulaski] can be very challenging, since pitchers often face improved hitters as they ascend throughout the minors. 

While the transition seemed confronting initially, Perez has gladly accepted the task of learning how to pitch to hitters in Short-Season Class A Professional baseball.  This season, through just over 34 innings thus far, he has 29 strikeouts, has held hitters to an opposing batting average of .235, and he has only given up one home run. 

Coming to Staten Island this year, he has focused on improving several components of his pitching style.

“[I’m developing] my velocity, my body, control and consistency,” Perez mentioned through the help of a translator.  “I have a little bit of control now, and I’m getting bigger and stronger.  Also I’m always [trying to] be aggressive in the strike zone and throwing strikes.”

Given that Perez did not pitch at all in the Gulf Coast League or in Pulaski, he is discovering more advanced hitters now as opposed to before.  While he has the ability and the pitches to get batters out at any level, the most notable adjustment so far has been grasping how to throw pitches for strikes more often.

“The strike zone is a little closer over here [than in the Dominican Summer League] and the hitters over here have more ideas about their [plate approach], and what kinds of pitches they are [looking for].”

Perez spent a large portion of Extended Spring Training working with pitching coach Travis Phelps.  There, they spent time evaluating and revamping his stride to improve his delivery to the plate.

“One of the biggest things we worked on was lengthening his stride, and keeping his front side on line towards home plate, so that it would eliminate him spinning off and coming around the baseball,” Phelps explained.

Perez consistently hits 94 to 95 on the radar gun during his outings, and oftentimes he can top out even higher, near 98.  With all his speed though, he has had problems commanding his pitches and keeping runners off base, as he has allowed 17 walks and 32 hits in his stints this season, corresponding to a 1.41 WHIP. 

However, despite some of those struggles, Phelps believes that Perez’s command is advancing throughout his appearances. 

“He’s able to command [the fastball].  He’s coming off a rough start (7/29 vs. Hudson Valley), but he’s been able to command it all year,” highlighted Phelps. “He’s touching 97, 98 MPH, and driving the ball downhill for the most part, and he’s really done a good job.”

Perez’s leap from the DSL to Staten Island this season was determined based on many factors, including his performance.  Last year, he went 7-3 with a 3.23 ERA over 69 and 2/3 innings.  When discussing what in particular allowed Perez to make that transition from one level to another, Phelps identified Perez’s development as a pitcher.

“He’s got tremendous makeup; he’s a young guy but he’s very mature.  He listens, he applies what he learns on the field, and that’s [what has] allowed him to jump a few levels –  [his] makeup and the character that he possesses,” Phelps specified.

With his arsenal of pitches, Perez has the potential to be an ace.  Known for his fastball, which ranges from 93-97, he also throws a curveball, which sits near 78 MPH, a slider that reaches 80, and a changeup that fluctuates around 85. 

While in Staten Island with the Yankees, Perez is especially focused on establishing the logistics of his pitching.  One person who really appreciates Perez’s pitching development is Staten Island Yankees Manager Dave Bialas.

“[He’s working on] his mechanics, not spinning off the ball, and staying more direct to the plate," Bialas mentioned.  "He needs innings, to learn how to command his fastball and get it down [in the strike zone].  If he’s locked in, has his fastball down in the zone, and elevates it when he needs to, he can get anybody out.

“He has an explosive fastball; one of the reasons that he’s here is he has a great arm, and he has the makings of a good breaking pitch and changeup.  He just needs to learn how to pitch; I think he’s fine at this level.”

As Perez registers more innings under his belt, he looks to transform into a more advanced pitcher than he is currently.  His goal is to be a heat-tossing hurler on a Major-League mound someday.  He mentioned, “I want to be like [Noah] Syndergaard of the Mets.”

With the repertoire and velocity Perez maintains with his pitches, he has the raw abilities to be a similar type contender on the mound someday if everything breaks right.

Phelps understands Perez’s skillset and realizes its possible implications too. 

“I think he can be a top of the line, Major-League starter.  I think he possesses the tools, the brain, the makeup, and the character to be a high-end Major-League starter [someday],” Phelps concluded.

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