Around noon yesterday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer was first to report that the Reds had traded Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox. A few minutes later, we learned that the Reds received three players in exchange – Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon – all from the Dodgers system.
What should we make of Peraza?
Jose Peraza is 6’0”/180 lbs. and will turn 22 on April 30. The Atlanta Braves signed him out of Venezuala in 2010 as a shortstop at the age of 17. Peraza plays right-handed in the field and at the plate. Atlanta converted him to 2B because of their long-term deal with Andrelton Simmons. Peraza mostly played 2B in the minors, but also spent time at SS and CF. He moved quickly through the Braves minor league system.
Peraza spent last year mostly at the AAA level. In July, he was part of a 13-player, 3-team trade (that also involved Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos) to the Dodgers.
Peraza’s rookie status is still intact and the Reds have the full six years of team control over him. If he makes the Reds’ 25-man roster out of spring training, the earliest Peraza could qualify for arbitration is 2019 and can’t file for free agency until 2022.
Jose Peraza has had just over 2,000 minor league plate appearances, playing at a much younger age than average in every stop. Peraza hit .302/.342/.387 with 9 home runs, 210 stolen bases (with 49 CS), a 10.4 percent strikeout-rate and a 4.75 percent walk-rate.
During his age-21 season in AAA Peraza hit .293/.316/.378. His walk-rate was 3.3 percent. The Dodgers gave Peraza 25 major-league plate appearances in September.
Here is a video of Peraza taking batting practice at the 2014 futures game:
John Sickles: He doesn’t have huge power or much patience but he makes contact, is an effective base stealer (26 steals this year, 203 in his minor league career), and draws praise for his defense up the middle. The Braves used him mainly at second base and center field this year but he had a good reputation as a shortstop before shifting positions to accommodate Andrelton Simmons.
John Sickles (August 2015): Looking at the most recent scouting reports and the 2015 numbers, my take on Peraza hasn’t really changed since March: he can be reasonably expected to hit in .270-.280 territory at maturity with good speed contributions but minimal power. Given his persistent lack of walks his OBP will be quite dependent on his batting average, which won’t be a big problem in a hot year when he’s hitting .300 but will be in a cold year when he’s hitting .250. His OBPs will be marginal, though the speed and glove will keep him employed even when the bat is cold.
Cliff Corcoran: Peraza lacks power and patience, but the things he does well, combined with his youth and the amount of development time he has left for a player who has already reached the majors, give him the profile of a solid everyday middle infielder, a role he could fill in Cincinnati immediately. Peraza is a significant prospect at an up-the-middle position.
Baseball America: Peraza relies on two tools: hitting and speed. He has a short swing, quick hands and strong wrists, with the hand-eye coordination to put the barrel to the ball at a high rate. He hits to all fields and is adept at going the opposite way. Peraza’s double-plus speed makes him a threat to steal 30 or more bases. He’s a line-drive hitter who can occasionally drive a ball to his pull side, but he probably won’t hit many home runs. Peraza swings at too many pitches, hurting his on-base percentage.
Baseball America: He made a seamless move from shortstop to second base in 2014 while displaying steady, soft hands with above-average range and solid arm strength. He is not flashy in the field but makes all of the routine plays and was voted best defensive second baseman by high Class A Carolina League managers. … The Braves shifted Peraza from shortstop to second base in 2014. He has above-average range and an average arm, but a funky throwing stroke. He also spent time in center field in 2015 to add to his versatility.
Jeff Sullivan: The overwhelming majority of players with Peraza’s profile are below-average hitters, and since Peraza is more defensively competent than defensively gifted, he’s going to need to use his legs. They make him go quick, and that’s a weapon. But I see Peraza more like a 1-2 win player than a 2-3 win player. I haven’t been impressed.
Dan Szymborski (ZiPS) projects Peraza’s 2016 season in Cincinnati at .265/.288/.369 with a walk-rate of 4.8 percent.
Jose Peraza is a solid minor league prospect, although at times he has been viewed as more than that. Peraza is only 21 years old and already made his major league debut. That’s promising. He’s a good 2B who can play SS and CF if necessary. That’s valuable. Peraza could increase his batting average as he ages and develops more plate discipline. He has a long way to go there.
Other teams and scouts don’t see him as an everyday major league player. The Braves wanted Peraza to be their long-term solution at 2B, paired with Simmons at SS. After working with him for several years, they determined Peraza wasn’t that guy and traded him. The Dodgers needed an answer at 2B and traded for Peraza with the hope he would be the one. After a few months, they decided he wasn’t. How do we know that? If they thought Paraza could be their everyday major league 2B, they wouldn’t have traded him for prospects yesterday. According to a former GM, both the Braves and Dodgers see Peraza as a utility player.
The Reds think Jose Peraza has a higher upside than do the Braves, Dodgers and the other critics of yesterday’s trade. The Reds believe baseball is a game heading toward emphasizing speed and defense. They see Peraza as a well rounded player that can provide impact value in those areas. In the best case, he’ll also develop into a .280 hitter with a .330 OBP. Think of Peraza as a similar player to Billy Hamilton, with fewer stolen bases and less defensive value than the Reds’ center fielder. That’s why the Reds were so focused on acquiring Jose Peraza.
The numbers and scouts point to a speedy slap hitter who doesn’t walk or hit for power; a solid, but not spectacular fielder.
The Reds only get to trade Todd Frazier once. They just bet a lot on Jose Peraza. Let’s hope the Reds are right and the Braves and Dodgers are wrong. The organization does have a favorable track record with 22-year-old shortstops from Venezuela.