August is over, and with its departure comes a new month — and new Major League Baseball roster rules. Like last year and earlier this season during the post-lockout opening months, teams will be allowed to carry 28 players. The September limit is a fairly new concept, but not terribly unsurprising, given how those old games could drag.
In most years of the past decade, the Yankees’ September call-ups haven’t been particularly exciting. Usually, it’s a reliever or a bench player — perhaps a pinch-running specialist or a third catcher. That’s not the case this time, as GM Brian Cashman is finally smashing the Oswald Peraza button, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
SS Oswaldo Peraza is being promoted by the Yankees with rosters expanding.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) September 1, 2022
(Disregard Sherman’s typo. It’s Oswald Peraza, not to be confused with his fellow recently-promoted infielder Oswaldo Cabrera.)
The Yankees have confirmed the news, as well as activating Marwin Gonzalez from the paternity list. That fills out their roster at 28, so speedy reserve outfielder Tim Locastro will stick around after filling in for Marwin the past few days.
Peraza and fellow shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe (currently in Double-A but perhaps soon ticketed for Triple-A Scranton) entered 2022 as Top 100 Prospects, and ever since he got hot in June, he’s been putting the pressure on the Yankees to give him a shot. This urgency has only grown with Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s continues woes at the plate and the Yankees’ lineup coming off a miserable August that led to the team’s worst record in a month since 1991.
Give credit to Peraza, as he did not let his April-to-May slump affect him, and his hot bat kept the pressure on Cashman and company in the front office. On the season, the 22-year-old shortstop entered play on Thursday hitting .258/.329/.440 with 18 homers, 33 steals, and a 104 wRC+ in 98 games, but those numbers are even better since the start of June. From that point onward, he’s batting .289/.364/.498 with 13 homers, 22 steals, and a 128 wRC+ in 60 games.
As if to emphasize how much he needed to be in the majors, Peraza homered today as the Yankees rested on their offday.
Apparently, hit No. 100 and homer No. 19 were all that the Yankees needed to see. Expect Peraza to make his MLB debut tomorrow night at Tropicana Field as New York begins a now-crucial weekend set with the Rays, who have whittled the Yankees’ once-mighty AL East lead down to six games. Peraza should take over for Kiner-Falefa at shortstop, but if the Yankees are still committed to the veteran’s defense — which their own metrics value, for whatever reason — then Peraza may also cover second base (though he has limited experience).
Should fans expect Peraza to be Derek Jeter incarnate and the bat that will propel the Yankees to a September surge? No because that’s hardly fair. But the man is a top infield prospect for a reason and has been hitting incredibly well down in Triple-A. Baseball America also called Peraza the best defensive infielder in the system, and he was tagged with the best infield arm, too.
Oh wow! Oswald Peraza is smooth as silk with this double play. pic.twitter.com/0byhoIHpaE— SWB RailRiders (@swbrailriders) July 4, 2022
With each of IKF, Gleyber Torres, and Josh Donaldson all looking lost at the plate and Anthony Rizzo missing time with injury, it was long past time to see what Peraza could do to snap the skid — even if it’s just providing a spark. He can help; let’s just hope that the Yankees follow up on their earlier statements that they would not call Peraza up just to sit on the bench.
Welcome to the big leagues, Oswald! We’re looking forward to seeing what you can do.