At the outset of the 2017 International Free Agency (IFA) period, the Yankees were prepared to make a significant splash after being limited over the previous two years. With a new set of rules put in place in the months leading up to the signing period, the Yankees were going to do what they could to sign a number of their top-rated IFA prospects.
Near the head of that list was Venezuelan outfielder Everson Pereira, who stood out due to his advanced hitting ability and strong projections to remain in center field for years to come. After a season where he took a major step forward offensively, Pereira checks in as the Yankees’ sixth-ranked prospect.
2021 Minor League Stats (Florida Complex League/Low-A Tampa/High-A Hudson Valley): .303/.398/.686, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB
2022 Expected minor league level: High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset
Major League ETA: 2023
Pereira stood out during his first trip to extended spring training in 2018, enough so that the Yankees took the aggressive step of skipping him over the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, assigning him as one of just three 17-year-olds to start the year in the Rookie-Advanced Appalachian League. The results were mixed, as he showed some of the positive traits that caused the Yankees to bump him ahead of his peers, but also struggled in some areas including his strikeout rate.
The plate discipline woes continued the next season as Pereira moved up a level to short-season ball in Staten Island. Unfortunately for both Pereira and the Yankees, his season was cut short when he injured his leg while playing a ball off the center field wall at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. After quite an abbreviated 2019, it was speculated that the cancelled 2020 campaign would hit Pereira harder than other prospects coming off a full season of at-bats.
Heading into the start of the 2021 season, Pereira was a bit of an unknown. Scouts did not doubt his tools on the field, but he had yet to put it all together in a run of success in game action. It was slightly concerning when he was not announced as a member of a full-season roster, instead being held back in extended spring training and then debuting in the Florida Complex League.
When Pereira hit the field in late-July though, he was off and running. He smashed three extra-base hits in three games for the FCL Yankees and was quickly promoted to Low-A Tampa. His hot hitting continued as he posted a 1.113 OPS for 19 games in Low-A and earned another promotion to High-A Hudson Valley.
Bada Boom! Everson Pereira launches this one to dead center! pic.twitter.com/mjl0kgXXnJ— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) August 13, 2021
Once in High-A, Pereira, who already had 6 home runs in 20 games, took that powerful stroke to another level. Pereira crushed 14 long balls in just 27 games while with High-A Hudson Valley. He ended the year as the only player in the minor leagues to reach 20 home runs in under 200 at-bats.
In addition to his improved power, Pereira began to take more walks as well. He maintained a 12.6-percent walk rate on the season, a number that did not change much as he jumped between his three levels of play in 2021. Of slight concern is that Pereira’s strikeout rate climbed at each stop during the minor league season. His swing and approach are going to leave him vulnerable to strikeouts, but his impressive display of power and patience at the plate give him every chance to be a productive hitter.
Pereira continued to play most of his games in center, but some evaluators have noted that he is trending towards becoming a corner outfielder. Even with that potential step down the defensive spectrum, he has more than enough arm and range to play either of the corner positions very well.
Holding Pereira back at the start of the season will be his status as a member of the Yankees’ 40-man roster. This has made him ineligible to participate in the team’s camps and any form of minor league spring training that will take place in the coming days. With just 27 games of High-A experience, there is a strong possibility that Pereira will start at the level again.
Pereira has been a familiar name to many Yankees fans since he signed with the team in 2017, but he is just 18 days older than consensus top Yankees prospect Anthony Volpe. Both players will turn just 21 next month and could provide a potent offensive punch to any teams they find themselves on together while ascending through the Yankees system. If Pereira can continue his offensive onslaught in 2022, then he has every chance to climb further up all the prospect rankings. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel was the first to dub him a top-100 prospect by placing him 69th on his 2022 list and with a strong season, McDaniel likely won’t be alone in his assessment next year. In fact, through Pereira’s status on the 40-man roster, he could very well find himself playing time in the major leagues sooner rather than later.