David Peralta: Out of the Corn Field

If you hadn’t heard of 27-year-old David Peralta entering the season, you can be excused. The left-hander pitched briefly for the Cardinals organization back in 2005 and 2006. He promptly left professional baseball after a couple lousy seasons. After dominating the Indy leagues, the Diamondbacks gave him a call in 2013 with an offer to join their system. He quickly rose through the ranks.

A litany of injuries opened the door for Peralta at the major league level. He made good on the opportunity with a .286/.320/.450 slash in 348 plate appearances. He brought a little bit of everything to the fantasy table with a 40/8/36/6/.286 5×5 line. Even the most ardent dynasty leaguer didn’t have Peralta on the radar, yet he played to a $0 value in just half a season. A full season of those rates would have looked similar to Alex Gordon. He posted $19 of value.

Of course, the pressing question is: can this guy come out of the corn field and remain a major league outfielder? The Diamondbacks appear committed to him – at least in a sense. They’ve said he and Ender Inciarte will share left-field. They’re both left-handed hitters, but there is an obvious way to platoon them. Inciarte is a ball hawk and plus base runner while Peralta didn’t stand out defensively or on the base paths in his brief major league sample. Inciarte seems well suited to support Mark Trumbo’s outfield adventures, which could give Peralta the edge on left field starts. For what it’s worth, Inciarte was over two times more valuable last season due to his fantastic defense.

The presence of opportunity doesn’t mean he’ll be a fantasy asset next season. We don’t have much data upon which to judge Peralta, so we have to acknowledge the presence of uncertainty. Opposing clubs should have a thorough scouting report, which includes a tendency to swing at pitches out of the strike zone and an inclination to pull the ball.

On the issue of plate discipline, I see this as the area where Peralta could either prove he’s a major league regular or fade into fifth outfielder status. Seeing that he attacks pitches out off the strike zone, opposing pitchers fed him a steady diet of balls, with an in-zone rate over five percentage points below league average. Should Peralta tighten up his discipline, he should improve upon an unsightly 10.2 percent swinging strike rate and 17.2 percent strikeout rate. If he pulls it off, he’ll have more opportunities to contribute fantasy numbers.

Peralta might be a platoon hitter, although he only has 81 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers. That said, he posted a 26 percent strikeout rate along with a .197/.247/.263 slash. By comparison, he mashed righties to a .312/.342/.506 line buoyed by a .343 BABIP in 267 plate appearances. Were I to pick Peralta, he would only face right-handed pitchers.

Given his dearth of professional experience, Peralta is a difficult hitter to project. If I had watched him daily, I might better know if he’s a finished product or has potential for growth (alas, I lived in Arizona during the season, so DBacks games were blacked out). There are signs of platoon problems and overaggression out of the strike zone – both of which are fixable to some degree. One area where I don’t anticipate a change is with his power. He’s a guy who should bop between 10 and 20 home runs over a full season.

Steamer calls for a 50/10/50/6/.276 line over 458 plate appearances. I think that’s a mighty fine guess. So long as his role is predictable, he should be rather useful as a $1 end-of-draft acquisition. Beware: the Diamondbacks are said to covet additional offense. Such an acquisition would probably come via trade, and I have to imagine it would be an outfielder. With A.J. Pollock and Trumbo owning the other two positions, Peralta has to hope for the status quo.

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“pitched briefly”???


This seems like a really interesting part of the story which you don’t cover at all, nor is it clear.