In July of 2017, a 16-year-old Everson Pereira was thrilling baseball fans across one of the northernmost regions of South America. The teenager already possessed physical gifts that projected him to be an above-average defender in center field, an above-average baserunner, and a hard line-drive hitter on the highest of baseball levels. When combined with the good instincts and a love for the game that was on display as well, the Yankees were impressed enough that they signed him to an international free agent contract.
Then, things got interesting.
2019 Stats (Short Season-A Staten Island): 74 PA, .171/.216/.257, 1 HR, 35.1 K%, 5.4 BB%, 46 wRC+
Prospect Ranking (Yankees system): 17 (MLB.com), 18 (FanGraphs)
In 2018, the Yankees assigned the recently turned 17-year-old Pereira to the Pulaski Yankees in the Appalachian League, an Advanced-Rookie league laden with players who had college ball on their resume. Pereira was not only the youngest player in the league at the time, but he was more than three years younger than the average player in the Appy League.
Although not completely outclassed, unsurprisingly Pereira had his ups and downs. Over 183 plate appearances, he posted a .322 OBP, .389 SLG, an 88 wRC+, and a K% of 32.8 percent. Yet even with the first season struggle, Pereira was still listed as the Yankee organization’s fifth-best prospect in November of 2018 by Marc Hulet and the other smart folks over at FanGraphs. It was noted that Pereira’s game speed on the bases and in center field alone would probably get him a shot on the big league level at some point.
Even by the spring of 2019, Pereira was still ranked just behind Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi García on the list of Yankees’ best prospects, and just ahead of Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, and Nick Nelson. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs wrote of Pereira at the time that he was an “above-average runner with an above-average arm” for whom becoming a 2-3 WAR player on the Major League level was a “reasonable” expectation.
The Yankees’ brass apparently agreed, and despite Pereira’s struggles in Pulaski, promoted him to the Staten Island Yankees in the short-season New York-Penn League to start the 2019 campaign — a league in which Pereira would still be almost three years younger than the league average.
Unfortunately, it didn’t go well. After 74 plate appearances in 2019, Pereira hit .171/.216/.257 with a wRC+ of 46. After a few injuries — one of which came as the result of an untimely collision with an outfield wall — the 2019 season was officially a wash for Everson. To add a pandemic to injury, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the 2020 season was also a wash for him and the vast majority of other minor league players as well. As a result, after two years with a lot of swings and misses, injuries, very few at-bats against live competition, and assignment for “at-home development,” Pereira slipped a bit on the Yankees’ prospect list.
As we await the start of the 2021 minor league season, Pereira is still considered a prospect with major league potential. He’s graded as a 45+ prospect on FanGraphs, which translates to a low-end regular or platoon player on the big league level. Due to the varying circumstances mentioned above, however, there are just too many question marks to be confident about a prediction, one way or the other. As I write this, minor league rosters have not been officially finalized and announced, so we aren’t sure where Pereira will debut this season. The best guess is we’ll probably see him with the Tampa Tarpons of the Low-A Southeast League.
Of course, there are plenty of questions to be answered and obstacles to overcome. There are reasons for optimism, however. Age is a big factor in the ability to overcome injuries and Pereira has that on his side. Combine that with the physical upside at a still very young age – an age at which he’ll likely be younger than league average again, should he end up in Tampa – and Everson Pereira remains a prospect worthy of our attention.