Poise. That’s the word that I think of when watching Oswald Peraza. He isn’t really a dazzling offensive prospect, but he has performed very well in the minor leagues the last few seasons because of his poise in the box. Defensively, we know he is highly skilled. But at the plate, it’s been nice to see him handle the strike zone well and not press too much despite the lack of batted ball success.
Last week against the Angels, Peraza was presented with a run-producing opportunity, as he came to the plate with the bases loaded against the struggling Patrick Sandoval. Here is how the at-bat went:
Pitch 1 (0-0 count)
Nice try with the get-me-over curveball, Patrick. His ability to get the first-pitch strike has dropped down this year due to some early season command issues, so he tried to catch the rookie with a rainbow curve, but Peraza had no interest in chasing this it out of the zone. This type of pitch is the perfect shape for Peraza to yank over the left field wall, but he maintained his poise and didn’t get too swing happy. This was a great position for him to be in with a chance to give his team a crucial early rally.
Pitch 2 (1-0 count)
Sandoval’s bread-and-butter is using his changeup at the bottom of the zone, but it seems like he didn’t quite have the grip on this that he needed, and he ended up letting it fly to the top of the zone. Lucky for him, Peraza was likely geared up for low-90s fastball speed and not an 84 mph changeup. That’s the beauty of the changeup though — it appears so much like a fastball that even a mistake in location could still yield an ideal result. Now, the count is even, and Peraza will look to be more aggressive.
Pitch 3 (1-1 count)
If the Angels lefty doesn’t have his changeup, then he is in for a long night (or short, depending on your perspective). His arsenal is built around the pitch, but it was clear this entire first inning that he had no feel for it, and this pitch perfectly illuminates those struggles. Peraza let it go into the dirt, giving himself an advantage count and a perfect opportunity to sit on a fastball to hit into a gap.
Pitch 4 (2-1 count)
Here’s the thing about big league pitchers: even when they’re bad, they still execute lethal pitches from time to time that completely fool a hitter. I would’ve expected a fastball in this situation no matter what. There were two missed changeup locations, and the curveball is primarily an 0-0 pitch or ahead in the count pitch. But Sandoval dotted the pitch and got a whiff out of it to even back up the count. Now, it was time to battle.
Pitch 5 (2-2 count)
This was the best take of the at-bat. After being way out in front of the previous pitch, the expectation as a pitcher is you have the hitter beat. If you locate that pitch again, the out is yours. But Peraza didn’t press, and he maintained his poise as he recognized the spin of the changeup again. From here, you don’t know what to expect. He can throw another great changeup in the zone, or maybe he’ll finally flash a fastball. You just have to battle.
Pitch 6 (3-2 count)
Another great take. Sandoval finally went to the fastball, and it was his plan to tunnel it with the changeup, but it ran too far under the zone. It was still worthy of a swing that could potentially yield a groundball, but it’s not in Peraza’s bones to chase pitches like this. I’m excited to see his bat develop as he continues to get regular playing time. Like Anthony Volpe, his eye and knack for drawing walks will buy some time for the swing itself to get going. With great defense, baserunning, and swing decisions, the Yankees may have them a keeper in Oswald Peraza.