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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Antonio Perez

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 1/26/80, Age: 22, Height: 5’11’’, Weight: 175, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Devil Rays - Traded with Mgr. Lou Piniella for Randy Winn on 10-28-02; traded to Seattle with Mike Cameron, Brett Tomko, and Jake Meyer to Cincinnati  for Ken Griffey Jr on 2-10-00; signed out of the Dominican Republic on 3-21-98. 2001 Stats: (AA - San Antonio) .143 AVG, 21 AB, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0 BB, 7 K, .143 OBP, .1443 SLG. 2002 Stats: (Rookie - AZ Mariners) .333 AVG, 15 AB, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 SB, 4 BB, 2 K, .476 OBP, .600 SLG; (AA - San Antonio) .258 AVG, 240 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 15 SB, 11 BB, 64 K, .312 OBP, .333 SLG.
    Antonio Perez was one of the highest-profile “age discrepancies” in 2002, which when coupled with his second straight injury-riddled season has left his prospect status severely in doubt. In 2000, when he was supposedly ages 18 and 19, Perez put up a good “raw numbers” season in the California League. Since then, he has basically aged 3 years without progressing at all (two injury-filled seasons with 276 total ABs, combined with an 18-month discrepancy on his birth certificate). When healthy, Perez is potentially an above average shortstop across the board. He probably will not hit for an extremely high average, at least not until he completely rids himself of his pull-happy tendencies. At his size, he should be content to drive the ball from gap to gap and start running, especially now that his home park will be on turf. He does have a bit of pop, perhaps enough to hit 10-20 homers a year by the time he matures. Honestly, he might be better off with no power, because he really does try to muscle up too often, and either that or the injuries seem to be hurting the other parts of his game. His strike zone judgment seemed to be a strength in 1998-2000, but over the past 276 at bats he has only drawn 15 walks, four of which were drawn in Rookie ball last year as a 22 year-old. He has sustained right-hand injuries in each of the past two seasons, so perhaps this year will be a better indication of the actual level of his skills. On the bases, Perez can fly, but like many young players, he tries to rely solely on his speed to steal bases. In time, he should be able to become an excellent baserunner. In the field, Perez’s immaturity stands out again. He has a fantastic arm and above average range at short, but he doesn’t seem to get good jumps on the ball and frequently makes the routine plays harder. The Mariners actually moved him to second base for much of last season, so I am not sure where he will end up in the Tampa Bay organization. Their top pick from last year, BJ Upton, plays shortstop, but the path of least resistance upward is at short as well. His tools are probably good enough to get him to the majors at either spot, but he won’t be able to hold off Upton at short.
    Antonio Perez is exactly the type of player that the Devil Rays are known for acquiring on offense: an athlete who, if he develops, could be a five-tool talent. Perez, coming off two years of hand injuries, could certainly be a surprise now that expectations have been lowered. Perez is no longer a potential star, but he could be an average to slightly above average major league second baseman (or shortstop). Somebody like Damian Jackson would seem to be a good comparison to me, although it will definitely take a full year of good health to see exactly what Perez is capable of against a reasonable level of pitching (AA or higher). I would expect to see Perez open at AA, with a quick trip to AAA in order if his first 100-200 at bats go well. The Devil Rays have a very reasonable potential starting lineup for 2005 with Hall, Cox, Abernathy/Perez, Upton/Perez, Sandberg, Crawford, Baldelli, Grieve/Hamilton, and Huff. The only questionable spots are second, short, and third, and Perez could potentially solidify second or short. The pitching is another story, but the Devil Rays should expect to be better than the Orioles very soon, perhaps as early as 2003.


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