Reds: Jose Peraza’s Rising Fantasy Value Heading into 2017

Jose Peraza was an intriguing player coming into 2017, but his fantasy value was not clear due to no definitive playing time. Now that it seems his role is defined, is his stock on the rise?

The Cincinnati Reds are not going to contend this season, but they do have their fair share of interesting fantasy assets. After Brandon Phillips finally accepted a trade this week, the door opens for the Reds to insert one of their young hopeful rebuilding blocks to shine. Jose Peraza may have bounced around between three teams already in his career, but he has found a home with the Reds and looks to be Cincinnati’s starting second basemen entering 2017.

Jose Peraza signed with the Braves as a 17-year-old in 2010. Peraza was lauded for his raw skills, especially his speed and smoothness at short. He started to rank on the top-100 prospect lists in 2015, but some scouts wavered on his long-term value.

Atlanta dished Peraza to the Dodgers in the Alex Wood deal in 2015, and then the Dodgers flipped him that same year as a part of the three-team trade involving Todd Frazier going to the White Sox. The Reds were more than willing to land him, though, as they foresaw a rebuild coming, and he could potentially be their shortstop or second basemen of the future.

He played seven games with the Dodgers in 2015 but was ineffective. After starting the year in AAA to start the 2016 season, Peraza joined the Reds in May and stuck with the team for the rest of the season. He did not get consistent playing time until Sep. but did finish 2016 with a .324/3 HR/25 RBI/21 SB/25 R/.762 OPS line.

He handled the bat well over 256 at-bats and was able to showcase his speed. The first thing that fantasy owners will see is the .324 AVG. Peraza is a career .299 hitter in the minors, so it should not be a shock to see a decent AVG output. He did ride a .361 BABIP to go over the .320 mark, but he has the speed to make an inflated BABIP seem plausible.

In the minors, Peraza never posted higher than a 13% K rate nor higher than a 7% BB rate. He makes a ton of contact, and his 87% Contact rate last season is encouraging for a speedster. He also posted 21% LD, 44% GB, 29% FB, 59% Med and 21% Hard contact rates, so while these came in an abbreviated sample size, it should perk fantasy owners interest. Peraza will not be a .300 hitter next season, but a .270-.280 AVG is definitely in play.

While his bat skill is solid, fantasy owners real interest in Peraza will be with his SB production. He has amassed 220 SB over six seasons in the minors, and between the majors and minors in 2016, he stole 46 bases. He was caught 17 times, 10 alone in the majors, but he was aggressive and should be even more successful as he becomes more comfortable reading MLB pitchers.

He has two 60 SB seasons under his belt in the minors, and if he can maintain the contact ability and GB rate, he will have no issue getting at least 40 SB in 2017. In terms of power, Peraza’s three HR last season were only one-off of his career-high of four in 2015.  Fantasy owners can not bank on him to supply any power, so around a handful of homers would be welcomed.

The one area that Peraza’s value may take a hit is his place in the lineup. The initial Reds’ lineup projection looks to have him hitting in the eight spot, a definite blow to his counting stats.  If he could force Cincinnati’s hand at slotting him in front of Joey Votto and Adam Duvall, it would provide a huge boost to his R totals.  Hopefully, a strong spring may expedite that decision.

It would be remiss not to warn fantasy owners that if Peraza falls on his face this spring and to start the season, the Reds have prospect Dilson Herrera waiting in the wings. Herrera is more of a natural second baseman compared to Peraza who is better at short, but the Reds know that getting Peraza reps this season in important. Look to see if Zack Cozart is moved before the season which would ease this possible qualm.

Jose Peraza may not be a top-10 2B this season, but he is a speedy option that is excellent for an owners MI spot. With SB producers now coming at a premium, he is a great target in the later rounds. Do not overlook Peraza on draft day this spring.

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