In this edition of the weekly prospect spotlight series here at East Village Times, Patrick Brewer puts the spotlight on Padres second base prospect Fernando Perez.
With the trade of Jedd Gyorko this offseason, the San Diego Padres infield situation gained a little more uncertainty. While obviously shortstop is the biggest area of concern, second base now becomes slightly more questionable, with Cory Spangenberg set to get the majority of playing time there next season. Spangenberg has been good in flashes over the last several years, however it remains to be seen whether or not he is a full time player, or just a useful utility type player.
While a majority of the Padres top 20 or 30 prospects are pitchers or shortstops, they do have several interesting second base prospects in the minor leagues. One such player is second baseman Fernando Perez.
Rated #21 in the entire Padres minor league system by MLB.com’s prospect pipeline, Perez has shown flashes of brilliance over his short professional career. A third round draft pick by the Padres in the 2012 draft, Perez has been slowed by injuries over the first few years of his professional career. Perez is coming off his first taste of advanced A ball in 2015, and looks to rebound after a poor showing at the higher level.
At only 22 years old, Perez is still several years away from being big league ready and still has a lot to learn. Perez split time between Rookie Ball and Advanced A ball last season. In 113 games with the Lake Elsinore Storm, with just under 500 plate appearances, Perez slashed just .224/.291/.352 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. Perez was prone to striking out, striking out in 23% of his at bats, and also saw a significant dip in his power numbers from previous seasons (as measured by ISO).
Despite his struggles last season, Perez is still set up well for success. Even considering his poor offensive numbers in 2015, Perez has an advanced feel for hitting with a smooth swing and an all fields approach at the plate. He also carries a good deal of natural strength, allowing him to hit for both power and average if he develops a better feel for the strike zone as his professional career advances. Defensively Perez has had several issues, first his arm strength at third base followed by his lack of quick feet at second base. Regardless of perceived defensive shortcomings, Perez should stick at one of the infield positions if his bat develops, with the most likely result still being second base.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Based on the scouting grades presented above, as listed on MLB Pipeline, currently Perez profiles as a utility player in the future. The offensive potential is there to be a regular starter but Perez must develop better awareness of the strike zone in order to reach his full offensive potential. Perez is a below average runner that has had some struggles in the field, but if he hits enough he should profile fine in the field going forward. At worst, Perez looks to be a serviceable utility player. At best, Perez could be an everyday starter at second base and a big part of the Padres future plans in the infield in a few years.