The Baby Bombers aren’t as highly touted in 2021 as they’ve been in years past, when names ranging from Aaron Judge to Gleyber Torres and Luis Severino to Miguel Andújar were scattered across the Yankees’ minor league affiliates.
Shortstop Oswald Peraza has a long way to go before being mentioned with those players, but he’s the latest Baby Bomber catching the eye of many.
It wasn’t always that way.
Peraza was a member of the Yankees international free agent class of 2016 but was far from the top name brought in. Signed for just $175,000 out of Venezuela, names like Roansy Contreras, Saul Torres, Eduardo Torrealba and Jose Devers were more highly touted, the latter two sharing Peraza’s position.
Statistically speaking, Peraza’s first three professional seasons weren’t eye-popping. The six-foot, 156-pound youngster compiled a .273 batting average while getting on base at a 36% clip during his first three seasons, spending time in rookie ball, the Dominican Summer League and Low-A. Over that 187-game span, power was non-existent (combined .374 slugging percentage) and he hit the ball on the ground a ton (50.8%), but also boasted terrific defense and speed.
It’s not all about the numbers though, especially in the lower levels of the minors. Peraza received continual promotions due to showcasing exactly why scouts labeled him with four plus tools. The Yankees added him to the 40-man roster this past November, further proving the organization’s belief in his talents.
“Peraza is a plus player in terms of speed, defense, throwing, hitting,” said one scout. “If he can get some power going, watch out.”
Peraza, who MLB Pipeline considers the organization’s fourth-best prospect, is beginning to put all his potential together, despite playing in just six games in 2020.
The Venezuelan native got his first taste of High-A ball to start 2021 and put himself on the map, both in terms of the Yankees universe and the baseball world. Peraza separated himself from the pack on a Renegades roster that features names like Ezequiel Duran, Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux, amongst others. He paced all teammates in nearly all major statistical categories on the offensive end, including batting average (.306), on-base percentage (.386), OPS (.917), home runs (five), RBI (16), hits (32) and doubles (10). Peraza’s speed was on full display, swiping 16 bags in 17 tries while scoring 20 runs.
Peraza’s efforts earned him yet another promotion, getting the call Tuesday to Double-A Somerset. He continues to ascend in an organization that has both talent and depth in the middle infield.
And that’s good news for the Yankees in a number of ways.
Having someone like Peraza can be a significant reinforcement one day, as his skillset—speed and athleticism—would be a welcomed addition to a lethargic big-league roster.
But what about help now? Peraza can be that, too—in the form of a trade chip.
The Yankees currently sit at 32-29, good for an underwhelming fourth place in the AL East and 6.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. With a glaring hole in center field, Brian Cashman and company will be looking for help in the coming weeks.
Joey Gallo, despite his high strikeout numbers, would be a strong addition to a Yankees lineup that needs left-handed hitting, speed, defensive versatility and someone who can get on base. The Texas Rangers are currently 15 games under .500 and may be looking to sell come July. One would think Gallo would salivate at the chance to play half his games in Yankee Stadium.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are at the bottom of a loaded NL West and are already open for business, according to one source. Ketel Marte is in the midst of his best year (injuries notwithstanding) since his All-Star nod in 2019; the 27-year-old switch hitter is boasting a 1.023 OPS in 89 at-bats with a .423 BABIP and 175 wRC+ to boot. He can slide right into center field while also capable at both second base and shortstop.
With Gallo arbitration eligible for two more seasons and Marte locked up until 2025, neither player will come cheap.
“I think it'll take one high-ceiling prospect and a mid-level prospect, and maybe another piece [to get Gallo],” said a rival MLB executive. “Despite his shortcomings, he has a lot of value. The Diamondbacks will ask for that plus more for Marte due to his makeup.”
Jasson Dominguez is off the table due to his future superstar status, one would believe Peraza may be a logical choice to pry a player away to help now. And with Gleyber Torres displaying franchise-cornerstone potential and DJ LeMahieu under contract for five years after 2021, how do the Yankees make room for him?
There may be a time where Peraza is playing shortstop in the Bronx, putting up the gaudy numbers he displayed just an hour away in Wappingers Falls. Peraza can also be the key trade piece that brings back talent that helps the Yankees get World Series title number 28 before he makes it to The Show.
Talk about a best of both worlds scenario.
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