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Viva El Birdos Cardinals 2018 Prospect Rankings: #13 Delvin Perez

Former first-rounder has lost some of his prospect luster

MiLB: SEP 06 Gulf Coast League Championship Game #2 -  GCL Cards at GCL Phillies Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE

#13: Delvin Perez, SS

6’3”, 175 lbs: Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 24 November 1998; Drafted Rd 1 2016

Level(s) in 2017: Johnson City (SS), Gulf Coast League

Notable Numbers: 13.3% BB, 15.6% K, .226 BABIP, .039 ISO (all JC), 10% BB, 20% K, .294 BABIP, .119 ISO, 94 wRC+ (GCL)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

There’s really no way around it: 2018 was a very, very disappointing season for Delvin Perez. The Cardinals made him their first round selection in 2016 after he tested positive pre-draft for a performance-enhancing substance and fell from a top five or ten slot to pick 22. There was lots of moralising from Harold Reynolds and others over the Cardinals rewarding an extremely poor kid from a rough part of Puerto Rico who dared to step outside the lines to try and improve his draft stock for the only guaranteed payday he could count on, ever. It was unpleasant.

More relevantly, though, was the concern that Perez, who had been an athletic marvel and draft consideration for at least a couple years, had never really shown much in the way of functional strength or an ability to gain weight up until the point when he was believed to have started taking PEDs. Sure, plenty of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds have trouble gaining weight and strength, but it was still a concern that the growth he showed from 2015 to ‘16 might have been chemically enhanced.

Well, consider that concern unalleviated, as Perez has yet to add even an ounce to his desperately skinny frame, and simply looked physical overmatched at Johnson City early in the season. It’s unfortunate there isn’t some easy way to suddenly add 25 pounds of good weight to a person’s frame, but that’s exactly what Perez needs.

Defensively, he still has exquisite tools, with a 70 grade throwing arm and range close to that which could make him a spectacular shortstop down the road. He’s a 65, maybe even 70 runner, as well, and should be able to add quite a bit of size before he starts compromising that speed.

The one real promising sign for Perez offensively this year was the fact he maintained a solid plate approach even when he wasn’t making an impact on the ball whatsoever. He was making terrible contact at Johnson City, but was walking over 13% of the time and running close to an even K:BB ratio. He struck out a bit more in the GCL, seemingly trying to be a bit more aggressive to generate some power, but still posted a walk rate in the double digits.

The bottom line for Perez is this: he’s going to have to get stronger. Some of the ingredients are still there for him to be a truly great player, but he is simply underdeveloped physically. I’m not ready to write him off, obviously, keeping him right here along with other prospects who have proven far more already in pro ball than Perez, simply because the ceiling could still be so high. But he’s much further away than I think most of us realised, and a lot of what he needs is only going to come — or not — with time.

And also pizza. And ice cream. And maybe a nice reuben now and again.