The Yankees typically play at the top of the international amateur free agent market, and 2017 was no different when they signed right-handed-hitting outfielder Everson Pereira to a $1.5 million bonus out of Venezuela. He has since become one of the most exciting prospects in the Yankee organization, and while his talent is undeniable, so is the curiosity that surrounds him.
You don’t need to look hard to find reasons to be enthusiastic about Everson Pereira. Start with the idea that he has real game power, not just raw power that needs to be tapped. It’s not apples to apples, but if you look at some of Pereira’s numbers in the minors and place them among the major league leaders for context, he would rank among the top power hitters in baseball. His high BABIP, ISO, slugging percentage, and rate of home runs per fly ball point to a player who hits the ball hard, and Baseball America backs that up in their scouting report, saying Pereira has “some of the highest exit velocities in the (Yankees’) system.” Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs called Pereira’s bat speed “nothing short of special.” Since signing in 2017 at the age of 16, Pereira has continued to get stronger, and that strength has translated into serious production and at least a plus power grade to all fields.
Now imagine this power is coming from someone who could play centerfield. Pereira was signed as a centerfielder and has played the majority of his games there, and while his continued physical growth (he’s listed at 6’0” and 191 pounds) could nudge a move to left or right, his defense and speed are both considered above average, as is his throwing arm. Pereira will play next season at 22 years old, has the chance for four above-average tools, and has already put up impressive performances at three minor league levels. These guys don’t grow on trees.
Despite the exuberance over Pereira’s skill and performance, there are two areas of concern: strikeouts and missed time. Pereira has struck out at nearly a 30 percent clip the last two seasons, and his swing-and-miss tendencies have caused some evaluators to drop his hit tool to below average. There is a lot of bat speed here, and Pereira swings with seeming intent to destroy, so his approach may contribute to a lack of contact at times. Some of his whiffs are confounding, missing pitches in the strike zone that at other times he squares up with power. There is cause for optimism that adjustments can lead to fewer strikeouts, as Pereira is not a hacker. While the K rate has been elevated, he also has posted walk rates above ten percent consistently with impressive on-base numbers to boot.
Though Pereira made his debut in 2018 at the age of 17 with 41 games at short-season Pulaski, he has only played 210 games in his career, with fewer than 1,000 at-bats to his name. The 2020 COVID shutdown took a season away from all minor league players, but Pereira has dealt with injuries that have interrupted each of his last two full seasons, and that’s after he suffered a foot injury crashing into an outfield wall that cut his 2019 season short. Some say the best predictor of future injury is past injury, so the most cynical observer may label Pereira as injury prone and write him off as not being a serious prospect. The optimist would note Pereira played 102 games in 2022 and enjoyed a successful promotion from High-A to Double-A in the process. Putting together a full, healthy season in 2023 would do quite a bit for Pereira’s outlook.
The Yankees thought enough of Pereira to add him to the 40-man roster in November of 2021 to protect him from potential selection in the Rule 5 draft. While they clearly hope they have a premium prospect on their hands, the Yankees probably won’t know exactly what they have in Pereira until he puts together a full season. He will likely open 2023 in Double-A Somerset, and a strong first half could put him in line for a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Being on the 40-man makes him a phone call away from the Bronx, but expect to see some patience from the Yankees in that regard. If Pereira has a healthy season with the type of loud offensive performance of which he’s shown he’s capable, the question of who will be manning the New York outfield with Aaron Judge in the future will perhaps have been answered.
Pinstripe Alley’s Top 10 Prospects:
1. Anthony Volpe, SS
2. Oswald Peraza, SS
3. Jasson Domínguez, OF
4. Austin Wells, C
5. Spencer Jones, OF
6. Everson Pereira, OF
7. Trey Sweeney, SS
8. Will Warren, RHP
9. Clayton Beeter, RHP
10. Jhony Brito, RHP
Bonus: Best of the Rest