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Meet the latest prospect in the Yankees’ farm system

Cristian Perez projects as a utility infielder, but can the Bombers increase his offensive ceiling?

MLB: New York Yankees at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Chance Adams was certainly a hot prospect until the 2018 season. Before that year, he climbed through the minors and was on the fast track to the Bronx, where a bright future awaited. However, everything went south at that point.

After undergoing elbow surgery to remove bone spurs before the 2018 season, his stuff suffered, as did his numbers. In the last two seasons in the major leagues, he had an ugly 8.18 ERA in 33 innings.

He was designated for assignment to make room in the roster for Gerrit Cole, and a few days ago, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor leaguer Cristian Perez.

By the numbers

Perez is a 21-year-old prospect from Cagua, Venezuela. As a pro, he has played four seasons, all of them in the Royals’ system. They signed him as an international free agent on October 13, 2015.

In his four years in the Royals’ farm system, he accumulates a batting average of .263 with 137 runs scored, 47 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 138 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases in 311 games.

He bats from the right side of the plate. At 5’10” and 170 lbs., he is smallish and the projection for power is very limited.

He has played 285 of his 311 games in the shortstop position. He is also capable of playing at the keystone (he played six games there) and the hot corner (14 games).

He is basically a slick-fielding shortstop with limited offensive skills, but he can make plenty of contact, as evidenced by his low 11.3 K%. He didn’t do much damage in 2019: in Class A-advanced, he had a .252/.290/.285 line with a 68 wRC+. He didn’t hit any homers and stole five bases in 117 games (424 plate appearances).

His career-high in homers is three, achieved last year in Class A. He has stolen as many as 10 bases in a year, both in 2016 and 2018.

A brief scouting report

Perez is athletic and is described by prospect evaluators as an instinctive defender with some feel to hit. However, with the power tool being almost non-existent and with such an underwhelming overall hitting profile, his projection is that of a utility player.

The Yankees have several utility-type middle infielders in the higher minors, so his path to the major leagues will probably not be particularly fast even though his speed is above average, he is athletic and has a solid glove.

There may be room for improvement with Perez, as he just turned 21. His development is, most likely, not finished yet. However, he needs to start hitting the ball with more authority and in the air. His 1.85 GB/FB in 2019 will not take him very far.

The Yankees will take their time with Perez’ development to see if he can increase his offensive ceiling. After all, he is young and has time on his side.