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Viva El Birdos 2017 Cardinals Top Prospects: #6 Delvin Perez

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Did the Cardinals get a steal in last year’s draft?

Baseball: Under Armour All-America Baseball Game David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE

#6: Delvin Perez, SS

6’2”, 165 lbs; R/R; 24 November 1998

Relevant Stats: .294/.352/.393, 123 wRC+ (GCL), 12/13 SB, 17 y/o

So, what’s so great about this guy?

How many times over the past half dozen years have you, as a Cardinal fan, looked enviously at those elite shortstop prospects percolating up through other teams’ systems? The Carlos Correas, Francisco Lindors, Manny Machados. Those kinds of players. The Cardinals never get those kinds of players, it seems, at least not on the positional side of things, where the elite of the elite are gone within the first half of the first round of the draft, and tend to sign for big dollars from just a handful of hyper-aggressive clubs internationally. The Redbirds sign interesting but lower-profile players and bet one exciting arms. Which tends to work out just fine, of course, but we rarely see one of those monster position player prospects come through the system.

Well, have you met Delvin Perez?

I’m sure everyone remembers the circumstances surrounding Perez in the spring leading up to the draft; if not, the short version is this: he came into the year a first-rounder, seen as an elite glove but questionable bat shortstop prospect, then took off with the bat early on, in addition to showing signs of beginning to grow into his ultra-projectable frame. Just a couple days before the draft, though, it came out he had failed a test for PEDs, and his stock fell as both moralisers and skeptics looked askance at him. The Cardinals popped him at 22 in the draft, and he hit nearly 25% better than league average as an absurdly young seventeen year old making his debut in the Gulf Coast League.

Cool story, huh?

Setting aside any concerns one might have about his character — and I would say now, as I said at the time of the draft, that judging a kid trying to maximise the one chance he knows he’ll have in his life to get paid and potentially escape a very rough upbringing in a not so nice part of Puerto Rico is the very worst kind of ivory tower moralising, and I’m still disgusted by Harold Reynolds’s reaction to the whole thing — Delvin Perez is the kind of tools monster the Cardinals simply do not get a chance to draft very often, sitting toward the bottom of the first round as they almost always do. Now, admittedly, those character concerns have their place in any evaluation of his potential; a player willing to take the easy way once might do so again. But for my part, I’m not worried.

As for the physical part of the package, rather than the nebulous character part, there isn’t another player in the Cards’ system with the kind of tools and upside Perez possesses. He’s got two 70s on the card already, in his speed and arm strength, and while his glove certainly needs work in the consistency department, there’s a potential plus-plus fielder waiting to be born here.

On the offensive side of the ledger, Perez already shows a good feel to hit, and his speed plays just as well on the bases as it does in the field. He has power potential, but potential is all it really is at this point. How much power he will or will not hit for we’ll just have to wait and see as he grows and fills out physically.

Make no mistake, everybody; I’m ranking Perez number six because he has less than 200 plate appearances in his professional career, and those came at the lowest level of the minors, but this is the guy with the highest ceiling in the entire system, most likely. One could argue for Alex Reyes as a potential ace starter, or Carson Kelly as an incredibly difficult to find commodity behind the plate, but Perez, if it all comes together, is that sort of premium positional talent the Cardinals almost never seem to get.

Player Comp: Perez isn’t a switch-hitter, but his overall package of tools is very similar to Francisco Lindor.

via Baseball Factory: