Jose Peraza was born April 30, 1994 in Barinas, Venezuela. He throws and hits right-handed. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Atlanta Braves barely two months after his 16th birthday, on July 2, 2010. Five years later, he was involved in two separate three-team trades within five months of each other. The first sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that involved key names such as Jim Johnson, Alex Wood, Hector Olivera, Mat Latos and Mike Morse. The second brought him to the Reds along with two other prospects in a deal that sent reigning Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox.
Peraza is a slight 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, and has played second base, shortstop, left field and center field since entering the big leagues. He is expected to begin the season as the Reds’ starting second baseman after the team traded Brandon Phillips in February.
The 2017 season will be the third in which Peraza will record major league plate appearances, but he will start the year with just 0.141 years of service time accumulated. Therefore, he earns league minimum. He will be eligible for arbitration after the 2019 season, and will be eligible for free agency after the 2022 season.
Okay, he doesn’t do that very often. But, boy do I like watching that video.
I don’t think it’s fair to say Peraza has 20-grade power, but the truth doesn’t fit much higher than that. He makes up for it, however, with an above-average hit tool that allowed the kid to hit .324/.352/.411 in 256 major league plate appearances last season, including a .366/.387/.484 line in 39 games after returning from the minors on Aug. 20. Peraza also possesses above-average speed, the kind that could net him 40 stolen bases over a full season at his peak, and carried a reputation for flashy defense when he entered the majors, though the defensive metrics didn’t see him in that way last year. His arm is average for second base, but is probably a little below that for shortstop.
PitchF/X Zone Profile
Jose Peraza has had just about the strangest history when it comes to how he’s been evaluated.
His skillset has never changed. He’s always been a high-contact, speedy player with a decent glove and almost no power, and he’s always been incredibly young in comparison relative to competition. From year to year, however, just how much people value that sort of player seems to change. Entering 2015, he was just about the best prospect in the Braves’ system. He played a terrific season in 2015, was traded twice, and suddenly found himself falling all the way off top prospect lists.
Now it’s 2017, and Peraza isn’t a prospect anymore. What he is is a guy who just played a half a season of major league baseball at just 22 years old, and really didn’t miss a beat from his very impressive minor league numbers. What’s different this year, of course, is how much easier it will be to find playing time for Peraza with the trade of Phillips opening a clear spot for him.
Peraza, barring injury, will get 500 at-bats in 2017. Will the results of those resemble the numbers he put up in 2016? I don’t have many reasons to doubt it. Peraza’s high-contact rates have remained consistent throughout his professional career, and his legs allow him to drive up BABIP numbers more than the average hitter. Could he walk a little more? Sure. But with that lack of walks comes a lack of strikeouts, and a guy with Peraza’s wheels scattering the ball around the yard and forcing the defense to make plays something you want in your lineup.
Peraza will likely never be a 15-home run hitter, but he doesn’t need to be. If he can hold his own in the field, the bat should prove itself to be worth a regular starting chance if he’s sitting around .300/.340/.400 with 30 stolen bases, with some inflation in all of those at his peak. I’m a believer in Peraza being a significant piece of the next great Reds team – especially now that he has a position.