Jose Peraza’s prospect hype seemed to have stalled after a rough 2015 campaign. He had a rough offensive season at triple-A for the Braves that year and then was included in a package for Hector Oliviera at the deadline when, presumably, the Braves started to look at Peraza more as a utility player than a regular middle infielder. Peraza was on the move again a few months later and, based on his usage at triple-A and in the Majors, it seemed like the Reds were ready to roll Peraza out in that super utility role. That thought seemed to be furthered by the Reds acquisition of Dilson Herrera at last year’s trade deadline.
The Reds seemingly took a u-turn on that thought and are now committing Peraza at second base this season. The regular playing time will make Peraza an instantly valuable fantasy player based on his speed alone. To add to that, he was able to play a number of games at both shortstop and the outfield to add some very useful positional flexibility.
Tons of people will be drafting Peraza due to his speed and the ability to slot him in at three positions, but as a fantasy player who focuses on deep leagues, his long term value is what I would like to take a look at.
Peraza’s best qualities as a hitter are his ability to make contact and his aforementioned speed.
We have just over 250 plate appearances to judge him as a hitter and base runner at the Major League level, but the bat control quality showed much better than his stolen base skills did in his rookie year. While he stole 21 bases, he had a -0.1 wSB. To give some context to that number, that put him in the 43rd percentile which is extremely underwhelming considering his speed score slotted him right near guys like Brett Gardner, Ian Desmond, and Jose Altuve. Peraza had an even more troubling stolen base rate at triple-A, with a 10-7 stolen base to caught stealing ratio. In the short term, the Reds are a rebuilding team and will likely continue to let him run at a high rate even if he struggles. But if you are buying Peraza for the long term, you are banking on the most recent numbers in the most competitive levels of the game to be aberrations and not the norm. He could obviously develop the skills necessary to be an effective base stealer, given his plus speed, but it is easy to be worried about such poor stolen base rates to this point against good competition.
Peraza’s serious lack of power will cause pitchers to continue to pound the zone against him. This is a common theme when looking at minor leaguers that have good walk rates, as the rates continue to get lower and lower when speedsters with severely limited power move up to the more advanced levels of the minors. Peraza has never had good walk rates, so there should be little expectation that he will begin to make taking walks an attribute. If you are in on base leagues, you are basically betting on Peraza’s superb contact ability to allow his batting average and BABIP to maintain near elite levels.
Neither ZiPS nor Steamer expect that to continue, but both projection systems think he can add more power than he has shown historically. In dynasty leagues, there are almost certainly players that are willing to overpay for young players with speed. Billy Burns was a hot commodity last year and fell off the map entirely in under a year. Burns 2015 profile looks very similar to Peraza’s from last year. While he was a few years older, Burns was still a player that had decent trade value in dynasty leagues last season mostly due to the lack of reliable long-term stolen bases across baseball.
If I were a Peraza owner, I would be utilizing his numbers from last year and the hype around his more assured playing time as a reason to move him to a team that is looking at their roster and is desperate for speed. I would use that and his short term multi-positional eligibility to land me a more consistent hitter or a reliable, young starting pitcher.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.