Just like Anthony Volpe’s bat has been coming around in the past month at Double-A Somerset, a similarly positive development has happened with fellow shortstop Oswald Peraza in Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Slow starts aside, the Yankees’ top prospects are giving the club reason to be excited.
Peraza’s full-season line is probably nothing to write home about. He is hitting .233/.297/.400 with nine home runs and 15 stolen bases in 236 plate appearances, and his OPS stands at .697 (through Sunday). Those numbers are still shy of what he has done in the minors over the course of his career: a .272/.344/.402 triple slash with a .746 OPS. However, Peraza’s last couple weeks of play suggest that he may be starting to figuring things out at Triple-A.
From June 11th to June 26th, Peraza has slashed .421/.439/.789 with a 1.228 OPS. It’s just nine games, so we shouldn’t get our hopes too high (yet), but his wRC+ over that span is a cool 217, and he has hit two doubles and four home runs. Two of those long balls came this past Sunday, when he went 3-for-5. Here is some impressive opposite-field power:
Oswald Peraza + another home run = player of the game. pic.twitter.com/4we6O5NfUr— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) June 26, 2022
Peraza will never lead the majors in free passes, but his 2.4-percent walk rate over these last nine games – compared to the 7.2 percent mark he has for the season – suggests that he has decided to be a bit more aggressive at the plate. For a hitter like him, that could be a good thing: he has to show he has the power to punish hittable pitches. If he does that, more walks will come in the future.
For a guy who had a 2-for-31 stint from April 12th to April 27th (.065/.216/.097, .313 OPS, 0 wRC+) over nine games, what he is doing at the moment is particularly impressive and shows some growth.
For the Yankees, Peraza’s development is crucial. They traded for Isiah Kiner-Falefa to be the stopgap at shortstop, but he is hitting .266/.320/.315 with an 84 wRC+. He has cooled off a bit after a hot start, and has since regressed to last year’s version (85 wRC+). In other words, he has been everything that was expected from him – no more, no less – but the Yanks knew that if Volpe or Peraza forced their hand, IKF would probably not stand in the way and could, theoretically, shift to a utility role.
Now, we can’t say that Peraza, as of today, has forced the Yankees’ hand. But if he plays at a similar level to what he has been showing since June 11th for an extended period of time, perhaps the Bombers could be tempted to re-visit the situation a couple months from now.
Before the season, we didn’t know if Peraza was a better option to handle shortstop duties than IKF. Right now, we still have our doubts, but the gap may be getting a little smaller. Could the Yanks make a change at some point by the end of the year? It will largely depend on Peraza and his ability to maintain some of the gains he has made recently.
Right now, Peraza’s wRC+ for the year as a whole is 85 at Triple-A, while Kiner-Falefa is at 84. They are very similar offensively, but the jump from Scranton to the majors may not be as smooth as we think for the young Yankees prospect.
There are loads of variables to consider, but Peraza does seem to be turning a corner. He is hitting the ball with more authority, sacrificing a few walks in the process. Of course, he will have to prove this is not just a hot streak, and for that, he needs more time. He’ll also have to take a walk occasionally once his ability to strike the ball hard is established.
He is a solid defensive shortstop, so if he can keep his recent offensive gains for some time, he may officially become the team’s best option at the position. He has a lot of work to do to reach that point, but there is a chance that comes this year, which should be an exciting prospect for Yankee fans.