Jose Peraza has picked up right where he left off last season, despite his promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett. He’s been an intriguing prospect for a few years now because of his high contact rate and blazing speed to go along with solid defense in the middle infield. Not known for his power, the 21-year old has now hit homers in consecutive games, which were his first two of the season. Any power is an added plus with Peraza, but could be a sign of things to come as he continues to develop into his Major League body.
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The Braves made a bunch of moves this past off-season, adding a ton of top prospects to their system. However, Peraza still appears to be the best of the bunch, after appearing at No. 36 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect rankings. Atlanta has the luxury of taking it slow with their stud middle infielder, but he may end up playing well enough to force the Braves’ hand. Since the team boasts the best defensive shortstop in the game in Andrelton Simmons, Peraza was moved from shortstop to second base last season. When he finds a permanent home in Atlanta, he will probably form the best middle infield pairing in the Majors with Simmons.
The Venezuelan’s bat should allow him to be a leadoff hitter at the next level. In 2014 split between Advanced-A and Double-A, he hit .339/.364/.441, with over 60 steals for the second year in a row. After getting promoted to Triple-A, he’s posted similar numbers, slashing .313/.341/.410 with 14 steals. The consistent contact rate is good reason to believe he should be able to hit .300 at the big league level as well. His speed will certainly translate as well, and should easily be a 40+ steal guy, at the minimum.
The one area that I’d like to see the 6 foot, 180 pounder work on is taking more walks. His aggressive stroke helps his batting average a lot, which in turn may limit his ability to take a lot of walks as well. If he can hit over .300 and not strike out a lot in the big leagues, taking walks won’t be as big of a deal. His overall impact would be enhanced if he could add 50 points to his on base percentage via walks, as opposed to the 25-35 he’s been doing the last couple of years. Especially as a lead off guy, he’ll learn that taking walks will help the team as a whole as well. His swing and miss rate is low enough that he can afford to be a little more selective at the plate.
Peraza appears to be a sure bet future Major League star at this point. Especially considering the presence of Simmons at short, Peraza’s defense will be a big upgrade at second base. Jace Peterson has been doing a pretty good job for Atlanta so far, but he likely won’t be able to provide the kind of spark that Peraza can. It remains to be seen how long the Braves intend to keep the yougster in Triple-A. In all likelihood, he’ll get 20-30 games in the second half to get acclimated with the big leagues. This should set him up nicely to compete for the starting second base job in Spring Training 2016.
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