Outfielder Joe Perez
The oldest member of this list at age 23, Joe Perez is a former second-round draft pick of the Astros but was designated for assignment last August when the Astros acquired Justin Verlander from the Mets. Unfortunately for Perez, injuries have held him back from reaching his potential, ultimately leading to him becoming a free agent last summer before signing with the Pirates.
Despite the injuries, Perez has consistently put together quality seasons in the minors. He’s a career .272/.344/.445 hitter across 364 games and over 1500 career plate appearances. This past season, however, Perez had one of his more impressive seasons for both Triple-A Sugar Land (Houston), Double-A Altoona, and Triple-A Indianapolis.
Over 121 games played, the most of his five-year minor league career, Perez hit .272/.359/.452 with 20 home runs and 35 total extra-base hits to go along with 72 RBI and 74 runs scored. His 20 home runs were a career-high for the former top prospect. The 6-foot-1 infielder also has a good eye, working 57 walks this season, though he will strike out his fair share as well, racking up 133 strikeouts last season. One could call his 2023 season a breakout season and there would be no argument but with Perez looking to be finally healthy, his 2023 season could be one that was just scratching the surface.
Projected level to start 2024: Perez will likely start the 2023 season at AAA where he played the majority of last season, playing 96 of his 121 games with Sugar Land and Indianapolis.