Eury Perez’s Professional Career Off to Enigmatic Start

As a league average minor league player just starting his professional career, you will usually find yourself attending extended spring training before being assigned to a short season league in which you will gain your bearings, learn how to adhere to a professional regimen on and off the field and hone your raw skills. However, Eury Perez is far from the league average minor league player. Four starts into his professional career, he’s proving why.

Born April 15th, 2003, Perez was a Marlins’ international signee out of the Dominican Republic as part of the 2019-20 selection period. At 18 years and 16 days, Perez is the youngest player in all of Minor League Baseball currently assigned to a roster. Challenged that highly at such a young age, one would expect him to be understandably struggling through his first four starts. However, Eury has done quite the opposite of struggle. Through four starts and 14 innings pitched, the 6’8”, 200 pounder is among the best pitchers in the Low A Southeast league. Among hurlers with at least 10 IP, his 1.29 ERA ranks 11th and his 0.93 WHIP ranks 13th. He’s giving up hits at a lowly .163 clip which ranks 17th in the league and his 25.5% K/BB% ranks 21st.

So how has such a youthful pitcher playing in his first ever affiliated games against average competition over three years older than him gotten off to such a successful start?

Size

Perez is 6’8” tall, putting him in the 90th+ percentile of all affiliated pitchers when it comes to height. Here is his release point mapping from three of his four starts so far:

A young man who knows his body well, Perez throws from an extremely high release point and planes downhill with natural ease, giving hitters a very tough time picking up the ball out of his hand and timing the break on his pitches, each of which moves at an above average rate.

Velocity and separation

Despite his immature wiry 200 pound weight range, Perez is already able to pump his stuff up into the upper 90s. Through his first four starts this season, he’s ticked up as high as 98. He throws the fastball two different ways, with two and four seams. The two seamer shows diving action while the four seamer has natural sink to the lower half. The only issue with Eury’s fastball velo is the fact that it has waned as he gets deeper into his starts, but that is something that should work itself out as his body matures.

It’s one thing to have a good fastball and good velo but it’s another to be able to provide different looks with your secondary pitches. Perez does that and more. On top of above average spin rates on each of his four pitches,  Perez provides a variety of speeds, the lowest being on his 75-78 mph curveball followed by his 84-86 mph slider and a 88-90 mph power slider.

Spin

We’ve mentioned movement and spin rate a few times already and for good reason. As many boxes as he checks, this might be Eury’s best attribute. Let’s take a look at this year’s MLB RPM averages up against where Perez is with each pitch:

Averge MLB sinker: 2193
Perez: 2600+

Average MLB four seamer: 2305
Perez: 2600+

Average MLB curveball: 2499
Perez: nearly 2600

Clearly, Perez is putting all of the attributes we talked about previously to work here: big hands and fingers, a shortened distance to the plate, a high arm slot and familiarity with his body leading to the ability to repeat. Eury doesn’t throw anything lightly; everything jumps on hitters and dives away from where they think the ball is going. This movement gives Eury the ability to challenge with every single pitch he throws.

Weaknesses

It’s hard to find many even in such youth as Perez currently finds himself, but there are a couple of things he needs to clean up as he traverses the minor leagues.

Effort

As good as Eury has been and should continue to be in the lower minors at his current level of development, he will need to clean up his effort pitch to pitch to succeed as he proceeds up the minor league ladder.

As good as Perez’s arsenal is, he shows the tendency to put more effort into his fastballs and less into his breaking pitches. If this continues, major league caliber hitters will see it in his film and notice it on the mound which would lead to Eury tipping his pitches.

The good news: he’s 18. Already showing good feel for three of his four pitches, Eury has plenty of time to learn how to match effort and arm speed on each of his offerings. While he is still raw in terms of repeatability, there is plenty of time for him to work it out and he has enough in his aforementioned tools to be effective while doing so, especially at the lower levels.

Changeup development

If Perez has one average pitch, it’s the changeup. While he can show above average spin rates with it and the ability to place it well, the consistency is lacking. He shows the ability to spin it in the 1800 RPM range, giving it both vertical drop and horizontal fade but it will also flatten out to the 1600s, making it a hit table offspeed offering. Moreover, his control and overall feel for the pitch is also very inconsistent.

That being said, the flashes Eury shows with it are extremely encouraging, especially for a pitcher his age. If there is one system who can be trusted to develop the changeup, it’s the Marlins’ system which has turned mere blueprints into effective weapons for the likes of Trevor Rogers, Braxton Garrett, Elieser Hernandez and others. With a better blueprint than some of those names before the development team got a hold of them and insurmountable time on his side, Perez should more than be able to build that offering into a plus pitch.

All in all, Eury Perez already checks many boxes with just a few holes and all the time in the world to correct them. For a teenager making his pro debut while being challenged to full season ball, the Marlins could not have asked for much more than what he has done so far. The organization is going to keep close tabs on this kid. You should, too.

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