The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #26 spot goes to a starting pitcher from the Dominican Republic, Hector Perez.
Name: Hector Perez
Position: SP Age: 23
Height: 6’3” Weight: 218lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent by the Astros on July 14, 2014
2019 Level: AA ETA: 2020
In 2014 the Houston Astros signed a then 18-year-old pitching prospect, Hector Perez as an International Free Agent. Perez signed for a small signing bonus of just $45,000 US and quickly showed lots of promise as a prospect in the Astros minor league system. Perez made his minor league professional debut in 2015 and progressed through the Astros minor league ranks at a steady pace. In 2016 Perez made his first appearance on a top 30 list being ranked 7th on Houston’s top 30 prospect list.
In 2018 Perez had progressed to the AA level and was pitching for the Astros affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks. Perez had pitched 16.2 innings with a 3.24 era when he was included in the Roberto Osuna trade which also brought Ken Giles to the Blue Jays. Perez was assigned to the Jays AA affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Perez finished the 2018 season with the Fisher Cats sporting a 3.86 ERA with 32 strikeouts over 25.2 innings of work. In November 2018 the Blue Jays added Perez to their 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
In 2019 Perez started the season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Many had high expectations that a strong start to the season would result in a promotion to AAA and even a possible MLB debut. However, the 2019 season did not go as well as anyone would have hoped. Perez was plagued with control issues which contributed to a Whip of 1.624. Without getting to technical Whip basically is a mathematical calculation that calculates the number of baserunners that a pitcher has allowed per inning.
For comparison, a WHIP of 1.0 would be elite with an MLB average at about 1.30. The 2019 season was also the first season that Perez allowed more than a hit per inning pitched and ended the season with an era of 4.60 over 121.1 innings pitched. During the winter season, Perez returned to his home country of the Dominican Republic and pitched in the Winter League. Unfortunately, the results against older competition in a small sample size (12.2 IP) has not improved with a Whip of 1.50 and an era of 4.97.
Hector Perez’s bread and butter pitch has always been a big fastball. MLB.com describes Perez as throwing a two-seamer with nice sink and a four-seamer with explosive riding life. Perez sits in the 93-99 mph with both pitches. MLB.com grades Perez’s fastball as a 65 out of an 80 grade. For comparison, Perez’s fastball grades as well as many of the top 10 prospects in baseball.
Hector Perez has a good four-pitch repertoire which also includes two breaking pitches. Perez will throw a wipeout slider or curveball that both grade as plus pitches with a 55 value at MLB.com. Both of these off-speed pitches can produce swing and miss but Perez will sometimes have difficulty finding the strike zone and sometimes he will have difficulty even being close to the plate. It is this control issue that has plagued Perez throughout his minor league career but now facing more advanced hitters at the AA level it has caused his ERA and WHIP to increase.
Hector Perez has gradually been sliding down the Blue Jays top 30 prospects list over the past couple of seasons. Perez debuted at 11th in 2018, 22nd in 2019 and now Jays Journal has him listed as the number 26th best prospect. MLB.com has listed Perez’s future value in the scouting scale as a 45 out of 80. To better understand this scale a 40 is considered below average and a 50 is average. Perez is considered somewhere in between. This rating appears directly tied to Perez’s control, which is valued at a 40.
The upcoming 2020 season will be a big one for Perez. He will have to prove that he is worthwhile keeping on the 40 man roster as other upcoming prospects will need to be protected next offseason. I’m sure the Blue Jays will give Perez all the opportunity in the world to prove that he can figure out the control issues and maintain his development as a starting pitcher.
I would predict that Perez will start the 2020 season back at AA but a couple of things could change quickly. If Perez has immediate success then a midseason promotion to AAA could be in the cards or if the control issues continue then a move to the bullpen could be the next course. Perez could still play up as a high leverage reliever even with some control issues. I’m hoping a second trip to AA will allow Perez to put it all together.