Name: Freicer Perez
DOB: March 14, 1996
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Standing 6-foot-8, the lanky Perez always had it in him to throw harder eventually but he was so skinny and so new to pitching that he began his professional career sitting more in the average 90-92 mph range but threw a considerable amount of strikes when factoring in his taller size. A lot of work ironing out his mechanics [including using his legs more] and hitting the gym hard [where he's since added 25 pounds after signing] has allowed him to better maximize the power in his towering frame. Now sitting a legitimate 95 mph where that used to be his top-end velocity range, he now tops out at 100-plus miles per hour and, still able to support even more weight and strength, there still exits the possibility that he's not done maxing out his sitting velocity if he continues to grow [he sat 96-98 mph at Instructs]. There was just a slight regression with his strike-throwing as the fastball got harder last year but he learned to control is pretty quickly and it wasn't a real issue by season's end. He boasts a plus fastball with plus-plus potential and the command should be at least average, which is a huge feather in his his proverbial cap for somebody so tall.
Other Pitches. Perez is known more for his huge size and resulting power fastball, and rightfully so, but it also allows his quality secondary pitches to be quickly overlooked and forgotten when they're already big league weapons. The best of the duo is his average big league changeup which shows long-term above average or better potential given the movement, fade, and depth it has shown so early in his career. Like the fastball he can throw for strikes too. What he's lacking right now but oh-so close to achieving is mirroring the same arm speed of his changeup with the fastball. He can be a little too deliberate at times and therefore tip his pitch, but coaches aren't concerned long-term as they believe once the muscle memory kicks in it will allow his changeup to go to the next level. That less-than-effortless motion can also plague him with his curveball. It can be a downright knee-bender when it's clicking, showing true 12 to 6 action in the mid-70s, and it has a bit more power to be tapped too. Given his power tendencies it's not beyond the realm of possibility that it will eventually sit in the high-70s to low-80s, and become a huge strikeout weapon for him. However, just like with the changeup, he has to get to the point where the arm speed and motion with the curveball are identical to the fastball, and it's not quite there yet. Bottom line; both pitches are big league average with a lot of ceiling left.
Pitching. Given his sheer size and power it would seem Perez's game is about trying to blow pitches by batters and attempting to strike everyone out but that's really not the case. Not nearly the grip-it-and-rip-it type he would appear to be physically, there's a cerebral side to Perez. Just a couple of years into his pitching career [he didn't pitch much as an amateur], he is still learning the nuances of setting up batters better earlier in counts but the overall pitch-ability is certainly ahead of where it should be for such a mound neophyte. He's also quite athletic and compact for somebody with such long limbs too and that allows his mechanics to be quite solid, and the end result is consistent strike-throwing. Much further along than Dellin Betances both mechanically and defensively [including holding runners] at similar points in their respective careers -- the only one that he compares to size-wise -- Perez still has some issues in those phases of his game in comparison to his smaller pitching peers. Given his above average athleticism for a taller pitcher, there is a considerable ceiling command-wise yet to be tapped even though the quality of the stuff may mean better command isn't required to tap his immense ceiling.
Projection. The physical frame is so spot-on to Dellin Betances that the comparisons to the Yankee All Star reliever are inevitable and it's even more so the case considering Perez, like Betances, can max out at 100-plus mph routinely too. And when Perez snaps off one of his better killer curveballs you'd swear the two of them were twins. However, while Perez has the one-two punch that can be very Betances-like [although in fairness Betances' curveball was a lot more consistent at similar points in their careers] and make for an apt reliever comparison, the fact is Perez has a bit more realistic starting ceiling when factoring in his ability to throw a bunch of strikes and limit walks a lot better than his uber-tall pitching counterparts. Throw in his ability to sustain his plus power deep into starts, power that may not in fact be done reaching its potential either, and combining it with his quality changeup and there's a significant starting ceiling that isn't very far-fetched in achieving someday either. There's a front-half of the rotation to perhaps even 'ace' starting ceiling if things break right in his development over the next few years with the fallback option of a power setup man or closer; not a bad second option.
ETA. 2020. His game isn't nearly as raw as some pundits may believe. Lost on how much the Yankees think of his pitch-ability is the nearly three-level jump he made last year, going from the Dominican Summer League all the way to New York Penn League. He seems poised to begin the 2017 season in low-A Charleston and a late-season promotion to high-A Tampa is not out of the equation either if he continues to progress. We'll take a more cautious long-term approach with his eventual big league ETA just because of the impressive Yankee pitching depth but he has the kind of game that can get there a whole lot quicker.