Joe Perez is probably the most highly touted of any player we will talk about today, but that isn’t saying much. He only appears on one top Pirates prospect list, that being FanGraphs’ as the Pirates’ 39th-best prospect. A former second-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2017, Perez was released by the Stros in early August and signed on with the Pirates.
Perez came to the dish 145 times with Altoona and Indianapolis down the stretch but was an extremely productive batter. The slugger batted .317/.434/.592 with a .451 wOBA, and 174 wRC+. Perez’s 24.8% strikeout rate wasn’t anything too impressive, but it was an improvement from the 27.2% rate he posted for the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate. However, he also had a strong 15.9% walk rate.
Perez’s best tool is his power potential. Last year, he slugged ten home runs down the stretch with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates. Perez started to lift the ball a lot more frequently after signing with the Pirates. He had just a 30.1% fly ball rate with the Astros before getting let go. Then, once the Pirates scooped him up, he saw that shot up to 48.2%.
Perez is a power utility man. He can play all four infield and outfield corners and can even play some second base. He’s not a particularly good defender at any position. But he is useful, given he can play pretty much wherever needed.
Perez could make his Major League debut next year. He reached Triple-A and is now entering his age-24 campaign. Is that to say that Perez will hit 30 home runs in the bigs next year and solidify himself as the Pirates’ long-term first baseman? No, but there’s a chance he could be a solid platoon utility man who hits for power against left-handed pitching.