Williams Perez had been putting together a brilliant season prior to a foot injury that sent Perez to the DL on June 27th. The little known prospect from Venezuala did not even start the season on SportsTalkATL’s Top 25 Prospect List. Perez spent all of last season in AA Mississippi, putting up solid numbers with a 7-6 record and a 2.91 ERA. The 24-year old right-hander took AAA Gwinnett by storm this year. In 8 starts with Gwinnett, Perez was 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA. His stellar results got him the call to Atlanta, where he made his debut on May 8th for the club.
His debut was one to forget. He came in relief against the Washington Nationals and got clobbered for 4 runs while only recording a single out. However, Perez got his first start on May 20th, where he impressed by giving up just 1 run in 5 innings while striking out 7. The result was a no decision, but Perez showed he was more than capable in starting for the club. He recorded 7 more starts for the Braves prior to his injury, and was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA before heading to the disabled list.
While Perez had taken AAA and the majors by storm, expectations going forward needed to be tempered. He was never a highly touted prospect for a reason, as he spent seven seasons in the minors. While the best pitchers do not always have a 96 mph fastball or a wicked slider, just look at two of the franchise’s best pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, it does help. Perez has a decent fastball that floats around 90-92 mph and some good off speed pitches to match. His control is pretty good but certainly not anything spectacular. These are areas in which a pitcher who does necessarily have nasty stuff needs to excel in. He does not have the luxury to walk batters or miss over the plate, and so far Williams Perez’s results might not have painted a perfect picture of what is to come in the future.
Friday night’s game against the Phillies was a horiffic one for all Braves fans to watch. The red hot Phillies are 10-2 since the all-star break, and they showed why against Williams Perez. Perez continually missed his spots and ended with a final stat line of 4.1 innings, 9 earned runs and 4 walks. He gave fans a perfect example of what happens when a pitcher without elite stuff does not have good control of his pitches.
To date, Perez has 27 walks in just 54.1 innings pitched. That is not a recipe for success for any pitcher in the MLB, and certainly not one for a pitcher who does not have elite strikeout capabilities. In most of his starts so far, the Venezuelan born pitcher has been able to get out of jams and produce good starts, which is not a knock on him at all. However, it is just a matter of time that some of those ground balls and flyballs turn into base hits, and a lot more of his starts look like the one we saw Friday night against the Phillies.
Friday night’s start pushed Perez’s ERA from 2.88 to 4.14, which is still impressive for a 24-year old in his first stint in the majors. It is too early to throw in the towel on Perez, as he has been one of the biggest surprises thus far, but it is not too early to wonder if Hart and company may have missed the best opportunity to trade the young pitcher at the deadline.