Williams Perez has made his way through Atlanta’s farm system, and started the year in AAA Gwinett. He was a solid ball player, but did not have high expectations as a major league ball player. Perez did not even start the year on SportsTalkATL’s Top 25 Prospect List, but began the year on fire for Gwinett. His success translated in the big leagues, and many people began to think the Braves might have found a diamond in the rough in Perez. However, his success was halted after a stint on the DL and since has been a complete mess. His ERA currently sits at 5.56 and his future with the Braves organization is certainly cloudy at best.
With the struggles of both Eric Stults and Trevor Cahill early in the season, the Braves had to act fast in finding major league ready replacements for the two. In 8 starts for Gwinnett, Perez posted a 3-1 record with an outstanding 1.16 ERA. The Braves gave the Venezuelan product the chance he deserved in the big leagues. After a faulty relief appearance against the Nationals in his major league debut, Atlanta decided to pencil him is as a starter on May 20th. The start was nothing spectacular. Perez walked some batters, got out of some jams, and ended up going 5 innings while giving up just one run in a no decision.
Perez built momentum off of his first start and went on to go 4-0 in his next starts while only allowing more than 1 earned run twice. He was simply phenomenal, and besides Shelby Miller, was the best pitcher on the staff. His presence in the rotation had helped keep the Braves in the race for the division, and he was certainly one of the biggest surprises in the MLB. However, everything changed after a June 26th start against the Pirates. Perez was in his 5th inning of work and was struck by a line drive in the foot. The play forced Perez to be removed from the game and was subsequently placed on the 15-day DL the next day.
Ever since that day, Perez has not been the same guy. Perhaps it was the injury that is causing Perez’s recent struggles, but either way if he does not get it fixed quick, he will have a tough time cracking the 2016 rotation. Perez returned from injury July 31st against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was not a warm and fuzzy return, as Perez suffered his first loss of the season while giving up 9 earned runs in just 4.1 innings pitched. The preformance was terrible, he missed spots all night, walked batters and even hit a batter. He looked to bounce back, but since things have gotten even worse. He lost 4 out of his next 5 starts and gave up more than 4 earned runs in each start except one.
It is safe to say things have gotten ugly for Perez and in his most recent start against the Yankees, he looked out of place on the mound and gave up 8 earned runs in 1.2 innings. The jams that Perez would seemingly magically get out of early in the season have come back to bite him in the second half. He does not have eye popping stuff, so he cannot afford to miss spots and walk batters. If he does, this is what the results will continually look like.
At 24 years of age, Williams Perez still has room to grow as a pitcher and could someday be a solid middle of the rotation pitcher in the major leagues. But with the amount of young arms in the Braves farm system, Perez’s days as a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves are numbered. Looking ahead to the 2016 season; Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran are the only two pitchers that will for sure be in the starting rotation barring some sort of injury. The other three spots will be fought out between the Braves group of promising young arms unless someone from outside the organization is added in the offseason. Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Tyrell Jenkins, Williams Perez, Mike Foltynewicz and even Mike Minor are guys that will be fighting for those 2016 roster spots. While Perez had success earlier in the season, he has the lowest ceiling of all those young arms. He was a nice success story early in the year, but his time in the starting rotation for the Braves is coming to an end. He needs to prove his worth to the organization in his last few starts, because he’s being interviewed for his own job right now.