What Can the Cincinnati Reds Expect from Jose Peraza?
After the Sunday trade of Brandon Phillips (finally!), old Call to the Pen friend Eric Roseberry reported Monday that the Cincinnati Reds brass had given strong indication that the second base job would now belong to Jose Peraza.
Who Is Peraza?
Peraza hails from Venezuela, and was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves, ironically enough, as a J2 prospect in 2010. He spent 3 1/2 seasons in the Braves organization before being part of a big trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the summer of 2015.
In his one season with the Reds organization, Peraza split his time nearly even between AAA and the majors, hitting .281/.333/.375 with AAA Louisville with 10 stolen bases on 17 attempts and a 21/43 BB/K ratio over 322 plate appearances.
In the majors in 2016, he hit .324/.352/.411 with 21 stolen bases in 31 attempts. He did have a .361 BABIP, which is significantly higher than the .310-.315 BABIP he’d displayed at the upper levels of the minors in his career. His walk rate of 2.7 percent also left a bit to be desired as well, but it was hard to argue with .320+ and 20 steals from a part-time player.
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The primary competition for Peraza would seem to be young infielder Dilson Herrera, who is on his third organization in his young career, having signed originally with the Pirates before being traded to the Mets and finally being part of the Jay Bruce trade last summer.
Herrera was stuck in AAA all season last year, and frankly if you look at this from the offensive side of things, you’d be quite alright with that.
Herrera will never be a guy to win games with the bat, though it would not surprise at all if he put up a .250-270ish average with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases in a full season of playing time, as he has a bit of power and speed enough to do just that.
Instead, what is elite about Herrera is his glove. I attended a Mets game as part of my honeymoon with my wife in 2015. Having told her that I was looking forward to seeing Matt Harvey pitch that day, we were completely blown away by Herrera’s play in the field that day.
He only made a handful of plays the whole day, but the range he covered and the ease he did it with caught the attention of everyone in our group.
Reds fans used to the elite defense that once graced the position from Phillips would certainly welcome Herrera at the position in that regard.
Peraza is a very high-contact, high-speed offensive player, but he really doesn’t bring much else to the plate, essentially a similar version to Billy Hamilton, but with better contact skills and less speed.
Peraza has never walked at a tremendous rate, posting a career sub-5 percent walk rate in the minor leagues. While he could be a solid guy at the bottom of the lineup, he’s not going to do well as a leadoff type due to his low walk rate and likely .320-.330s on-base.
For those fantasy owners out there, it’d be very feasible that Peraza hit in the .280-.300 range with 20-30 steals, so those numbers could certainly help your fantasy team, but with a solid competitor like Herrera in the wings, it’s feasible that Peraza could open the season and see Herrera take the job by midseason.
One thing not really considered by many is that if Herrera does come up and take the job by midseason, there is a strong possibility that if Zack Cozart is healthy and playing well, the Reds would entertain the idea of trading him, and the one position that Peraza still shows defensive aptitude at is certainly shortstop.
He also showed enough versatility last season in playing 10+ games each at second base, shortstop and center field that he could be used around the outfield and middle infield to help get the team filled out as the year wears on.
Probably not a guy who will win your fantasy league for you, but he should get good playing time early, and he could be a solid source of steals, which have become increasingly rare in the game.