This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July, we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #14, Delvin Perez.
14. Delvin Perez – SS
1st Round – 2016 Draft
Entering age-19 season
2017 wRC+: 61
|2017||18||-2.0||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk||STL||34||140||118||14||24||2||3||0||9||5||5||17||24||.203||.314||.271||.585||32||2||3||0||2||0|
Let’s break away from the “What I Like” and “What I Don’t Like” format for a second and use Mets shortstop Amed Rosario as a comparison.
Amed Rosario was signed by the Mets on they 2012 7/2 deadline when he was just 17 years old. At the time, there were mixed opinions about him. The Astros and White Sox joined the Mets as the only serious suitors for the Dominican born shortstop, who commanded a then-record signing bonus of $1.75 MM.
In 2013, his age-18 season, Rosario struggled in the Appalachian (Appy) League. He slashed just .241/.279/.352 for a wRC+ of 82, 18% below league average. The following year, his age-19 season, he pushed to a full-season squad where, again, his performance didn’t match the signing bonus he earned two years previously. While he improved, his .279/.337/.380 doesn’t exactly scream organizational headliner.
In 2015 Rosario got his first turn at High-A and was below league average again, with a wRC+ of just 97. It wasn’t until 2016, a full four years after he was signed, that be broke out and it took a second turn at High-A. His wRC+ of 132 was a personal best, as was his .309/.359/.442 slash line. He began his ascension up the minors and national prospect rankings from 98th on Baseball America’s list before 2015, to 58 before 2016, and 2nd before last season.
Like Rosario, Delvin was an extremely talented and controversial acquisition. Cardinals fans have heard it ad nauseam over the past two years, but he was projected to go in the top five overall picks before failing a PED test. Like Rosario, he was just 17 years of age when he entered the organization. Last season, his age-18 season, he spent it mostly in the Appy League, the same was Rosario.
The most concerning thing is that he didn’t spend all of 2017 in the Appy League because of a demotion. The demotion, as we talked extensively about on episode two of Prospect To Be Named Later, was because of attitude and effort problems. Of all the possible causes for a demotion, to me, this was a worst-case scenario. Struggling in professional baseball is common, but attitude and effort are the two aspects a player has complete control over, and Delvin struggled with that in 2017.
It’s hard to believe Perez is still just 19 years old. Having been a member of top prospect lists for three years now, prospect fatigue is starting to develop. It’s understandable, but we need to step back and understand he still has years of development ahead of him. We can draw hope from Amed Rosario’s development that struggles at the age of 18 aren’t necessarily indicative of future success. After all, he still has the physical tools that had him shooting up draft boards less than three years ago. His speed and athleticism are top-notch, his hands are magnificent at shortstop, and he can hit 93 mph across the infield. His athleticism translates at the plate and he has the chance to develop above-average power for a shortstop.
Comparisons to Francisco Lindor were certainly over the top in 2016. However, as we can see from Amed Rosario, 2017 was just the beginning of his development. He’ll only be 19 this year, too, so even if he struggles it’s not the end of the world. It took Rosario four full seasons before he broke out, and we should hope we, and the organization, can be as patient with Perez as the Mets were with Rosario.
Thanks for reading! As always thanks to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs for their statistics databases. Be sure to check out Kyle’s post tomorrow at Birds On The Black, and listen to Prospect To Be Named Later for even more minor league content.